Saturday, 7 June 2008

Learning Organizations, eLearning 2.0 and Edupunk

Janet Clarey wrote an interesting blog post in response to the relatively recent edupunk meme which is basically an ideology that DIY learning and repurposing content is the way to go (and somewhat the ONLY way to go). Janet juxtaposes the recent inclusion of eLearning 2.0 type tools in Learning Management Systems against the philosophy that corporate and commercial is evil of the edupunkers. The questions she raises are:
Is the edupunk ideology saying that the use of social media in commercial learning management systems is an assault on the very philosophy of learning 2.0?

Ideologies shouldn’t be rigid should they? Rather they should be adapted and used in pragmatic ways don’t you think? If you’re a trainer embracing learning 2.0, who gives a rats ass where it lives.
These are fair questions that are also central to the issues of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption. Corporate IT is interested in rolling out systems that they can control for security, auditing, back-up and a host of other control reasons. This is counter to the very being of a person like Stephen Downes. They would argue that the individual chooses what makes sense in their personal work and learning environment.

As a trainer, you are going to get stuck in the middle of this. If you have a population of learners who have already adopted tools (such as blogging and social bookmarking) for themselves that are different than the corporate tool (the LMS) do you ask them to move? It will depend on the content, but it certainly won't be good for the learner. If your population has not adopted a tool yet, do you have a responsibility to the individual to show them tools that can live beyond their engagement at the company? Do you show them the internal blogging tool only?

The answers are going to depend on the particular situation, but in a few cases I think the answers are fairly well known.

For Wiki-like capabilities, it likely is fine for an LMS to provide these and for learning organizations to use them. Most knowledge workers are used to thinking about that type of content being created for internal use only. It makes sense in many of these cases to keep it inside the firewall. So no problem if their Wiki is tied to the LMS. Just don't make me login to get to it. Allow it to be easily searched. Etc.

But I would claim that if you are talking about blogging as an ongoing learning and networking tool, then you are doing a disservice to learners if you show them only internal tools bundled with the LMS or any tool that is locked inside the walls of the corporation.

These are going to be real challenges for learning organizations and trainers moving forward.

Hopefully, we'll begin to see ways to allow a better handling of inside and outside the firewall solutions. For example, having social bookmarking that allows links to be kept private to a group. Interestingly when Yahoo create MyWeb as a competitor to before acquiring del.icious - they had features that did this. I'm expecting them at some point to put this into so that you can control visibility of bookmarks.

Final thought - I would claim that a bad reaction to this debate is to do nothing because we aren't sure. We need to be building work literacy. This will benefit the corporation and the individual.

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