November 3, 2006

FSOSS: Web 2.0, eLearning, and Open Source

Web 2.0, eLearning, and Open Source by Kevin Pitts, eLearning Faculty Advisor - Seneca College and James Humphreys, eLearning Faculty Advisor - Seneca College

The evolving “Web” (some have referred to the next generation of web use as Web 2.0) brings with it a need to rethink the wants and needs of the individual, and how that individual collaborates and shares with the communities to which he or she belongs. In this presentation we’ll look at the implications of Web 2.0 on elearning, speculate on the design and development of open source tools and services to meet the elearning needs of Web 2.0 users, and demonstrate some early innovations that may take hold as we move forward in the elearning web space.
This was another great session, also the one closest to my heart as a librarian as it was about the intersectin between education and technology and how the web can be a platform for education directly, not just as an adjunct to another delivery method. Great stuff.

The presenters began by defining Web 2.0, something that they did very quickly given that the audience was generally quite tech-savvy. They note that W2 is all about dynamic social networking and that it fits well with contstructivist pedagogy. They propose a kind of emergent elearning model, noting that in the past elearning has mostly been about course management software (CMS) or course web pages. This new model would include things in addition to CMSes such as blogs, wikis and virtual environments. This is symptomatic of an shift in the use of technology in education from the administrative side to the academic side. The tech begins to be used as an extra to a course, like a blog or wiki or a social network, feeding the long tail of niche markets in knowledge.

This is where FOSS comes in handy. With the merging of a lot of the proprietary systems companies, like Blackboard & WebCT, there's a lot of opportunity for FOSS products to get in the door, as they become part of the review process as product decisions are made. The niche markets in educational needs, the long tail, can be well served by FOSS products as they move out of the backoffice apps like operating systems to mainstream elearning applications. They mentioned there is a kind of "sweet spot" in FOSS products where the combine a specific niche and product maturity. Some examples are Moodle and Sakai for CMSes.

Some future directions? The most fascinating one was a promotional video they showed of a college that's established a campus in the Second Life virtual world, demonstrating that people are actually teaching in a game-like vitual world. Next they talked about the Seneca social networking product ELGS which uses a "friends" metaphor to provide blogs & wikis. This lead to a discussion of the CLEA environment, short for Create/learn/explore/activities.

To sum up, FOSS operatings systems seem to be at the tipping point leading to greater acceptance; we are entering the "teaching and learning" era of elearning systems which leads to a more distributed and democratized learning experience, making institutional/technological cultures more open, surrendering some of the need for ownership & control.

(TOC of my FSOSS posts, FSOSS agenda, video recordings of sessions)

(There were 3 presenters, not two like in the agenda. Unfortunately, I don't have the third name, anyone else have it so I can include it.)


Anonymous said...

The third speaker at the series is Susan Learney, eLearning Faculty Advisor at Seneca College at Newnham campus.

Anonymous said...

The third speaker at the series is Susan Learney, eLearning Faculty Advisor at Seneca College at Newnham campus.