Web-Teaching

Shannon Hauser has been working in the Simpson library at UMW for almsot a year now, and this afternoon she brought DTLT a couple of booksthat the they’re taking out of circulation. I love that she did, kinda makes me want to hook her up with a free domain and web hosting 🙂 One of the books she brought over is a second edition of Web-Teaching: A Guide to Designing Interactive Teaching for the Wolrd Wide Web. It was published in 2001, and it updates the state of educational technology in the four years between 1997 and 2001. I’m going to sit down with it over the next few days because it aligns with where my heads is at the moment, but Shannon pointed me immediately to this little nugget on page 41:

blackboard_free_open

A “free service,” “open to anyone for enrollment,” “thousands of courses,” “Easy-to-use software,” etc. It’s Google Apps for education and corporate MOOCs all over again. But in the end it never winds up being free or open or disruptive or innovative. It ends up being a market to exploit, and that’s where I get pissed off that we seem to be falling into the same traps. When is highered going to reclaim the web? At some point there has to be a reckoning, and be careful because the bava is heating up his flamethrower!

Image credit: All Hail the Noise Professor!

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7 Responses to Web-Teaching

  1. Brian says:

    I hope EDUCAUSE Review is cool with re-publishing that photo.

  2. Tim Owens says:

    A fiery man indeed.

  3. Ben says:

    Tongue and cheek aside, the depth of your statement here is certainly one of significant importance. Thankfully I work in a district in which teachers are quite scrupulous, and will take advantage of free tools much more so than the average educator, and gladly hop to the next tool once the “pay wall” sets in for too long a period. That having been said, we still encounter the “revolutionary” tools that have become institutionalized, and it makes me sad; there’s only so much that an individual, or a small group of users, can do before resources and energy wears thin, and the “off the shelf” tool just works. I’m pushing our campus installation of WordPress Multisite as much as possible, but it’s a slow grind. Will keep on fighting the good fight though with people like you championing our willingness to tame the fire, Jim 🙂

  4. Pingback: Taming the Web | bavatuesdays

  5. Chris L says:

    It’s easy to laugh at (and be terrified by) Bb now, but I remember the days of teaching faculty and staff how to code HTML pages and FTP them to their ~ web spaces and how exciting it was when I made Bb available to them via an old desktop machine that was literally a footrest under my desk. The amount of use that Bb server saw was immediate and incredible…instead of perhaps 2 of every 10 people I trained continuing to make use of the web for teaching it became something like 8 of 10. There were no other options at the time that made it as easy as Bb did…and compared to the essential nothingness that existed before, it was incredibly exciting to have faculty using Bb for teaching and having them in a position to focus on how and what they were doing with the web rather than the technology enabling them to do it. You know how strong of a proponent I am for open education and working outside the LMS, but a significant part of my nostalgia for the old days centers around the breakthrough Bb provided then. And, for that matter and for a significant part of our faculty, now…

    • Reverend says:

      Yeah, I think this is an excellent point and I underestimate the force of this blossoming of options. I was on the other side of BlackBoard. I was a grad student at CUNY, and we were forced to share our reflections there. I couldn’t help thinking those were the darkest years of the web, at least for me. From ’99 through about 2002 I was burnt on the web. I felt it was all systems like that. With commodity hosting in 2003 I felt I had rediscovered the web again, a year later I started my edtech career. I recognized BlackBoard as an option, but I was also struck by how much Bb in those four years became the only option. And I know I over simplify this narrative and have the curse of hindsight, but the thing about that uptake is, like with MOOCs, it became monolithic. And it’s focus on management and administration as teaching started to bleed into the culture. But it also followed a familiar trajectory of open, free and then enterprise and inflexible. The Bb of 1999 was a very different beast than that of 2004, and I know it’s that transformation I should be focused on in more detail rather than these sweeping generalizations, but damn that takes time. That said, I would like to, and if I ever clear my desk for a month or two I just might.

      • Chris L says:

        I wonder how different the Bb of 1999 was, really? I honestly don’t–all these versions of Bb later–remember. I know it was terribly designed, from the beginning, and without any ill-will (I don’t believe), it was designed as a walled garden. I’ve assumed that the big difference was primarily in the lack of other options at the time…

        Where you and I probably differ is in our assessment of the potential of the LMS. I work for a “Blackboard Institution” and we will be for the foreseeable future (when we aren’t, we will surely become a Canvas or similar institution)…perhaps that is deluding me into the belief that there are good faculty doing good teaching using it. But that is, nevertheless, what I see. Not my preference, and I have to ignore a whole host of socio-cultural and institutional implications when I engage with Bb and faculty using it…but I have to do that when it comes to political beliefs too.

        And we’re starting to see interesting responses from students who use both good Bb and good (I think I have enough cred to evaluate reasonably) open (WordPress and other ) systems…many of them question why one or the other is used, not feeling there is enough of a difference to matter. And if their work making things isn’t engaged in that platform, but in other apps and activities (many of them open), and setting aside the implications of teaching in the open–which is more the teacher’s concern than theirs–they have a point.

        But I could well just be rationalizing that Bb can play a productive part in the limited role I see it having in the actual process of teaching and learning with specific events and specific students. After all, I have to live with it.

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