I was hoping to jump into this fray, and I will only tangentially to say how much I liked Stephen Downes’s post in response to Michael Feldstein’s post here. I particularly enjoyed this following bit that contends that aping the OER as a kind of online lecture that works for the elite 15% of the world’s university students that have succeeded because they know how to study, marginalizes a whole different part of the population of learners that may want another approach. A different, engaged, and creative lens on the act of learning.
So long as we depict open learning as some form of ‘independent study, then yeah, it will appeal only to the fifteen percent of people that likes to study.
In my mind he nails it entirely with this quote, herein lies the danger of aping the Ivy “study” model, where students become power tools for studying what’s been said and repeating it back. As David Wiley points out, so many other colleges are wrongheadedly trying to emulate such a model, despite the fact that their students’ desires and strengths may vary dramatically from the Ivy model. Downes’s vision of a different model of education—which is not the same as getting rid of education by any means—speaks volumes to a push we need to be thinking about in terms of the production of these resources by the community members themselves. Why does this happen with technologists? —as Michael Feldstein asks. Well, I would argue because many technologists have become a part of creative and cooperative online communities that are willing to share, think, experiment, and in many ways live these new approaches—and these same practices may very well become models. Which is my biggest issue with Feldstein argument in this post, he sounds like he desparately needs to hang onto the idea of LMS—and given how much he blogs and how connected he is through various media I just can’t help but think why?
What is the argument for the LMS again? Those quizzes can’t find another home? Those grades won’t survive a different spreadsheet? Students way too confused without single sign-on? What amorphous mass of students and faculty does we represent? We are nothing if not thinkers—let the LMS die its own violent death, there is too much good work to be done elsewhere. I do not believe, as a technologist, I should be trying to save education, no less an LMS, but rather I am quite simply trying to practice the act of learning collaboratively though this media in new ways. That is my job, and when I use these tools, when I write this post, tweet an insult, or upload a video, I am doing my job. None of it happens in an LMS, it all happens as a series of fascinating and important—at least to me—networked conversations that are often laced with fun.
Which reminds me, I have a dog to neuter don’t I….
What Downes is advocating for here is not the independent study model, but the networked study model. A very different idea of school that hits home for me given I wasted many an independent study trying to do what today I freely can in my learning. Educational institutions are one, rather limited way at all this as they stand now, and their apotheosis as always already necessary and good does no one any good.