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We can see at the web that humans leverage information, act as information broker, provide support and help each other, create and remix things, tag them, question them, improve them, and ultimately do this for a particular reason be it learning, work or fun… And IMO they are doing a fairly good job on this.

A simple bulletin board can be turned into a vivid learning community, as long as there is a motivation and reason for a diverse group to engage at it.

We have already for quite some years all those free tools at hand, but yet we haven’t managed to apply them in the right way. If we are to “go open”, and not just use “open” as the trendy word it became, we might need to understand first how the web works and what’s proven to work out well and to create similar conditions within an educational setting and than keep on going to improve and enhance it step by step.

But you might have taken this all into consideration and it is just me being scared by the wording or the way I interpret them, which gives me the idea that the focus is once again on new technologies.

Best, Andreas

5. davidmcquillan - october 20th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Hi all,

I’m interested to know how open SocialLearn is.

Will it be available for the students of other institutions to use?

6. martin weller - october 21st, 2008 at 1:48 am

@Ken - I think disaggregation may come in many forms. You can view current higher education as a convenience bundle: it puts together content (lectures, selected books/articles), support, assessment, and a cohort to study with. That’s quite a powerful bundle and worth paying for. But elements of it begin to fray - content for example can be easily found and assembled (but the sequencing is still valuable), support could be paid for as you need it (PhD students offering it online for $20 an hour), and a cohort could be assembled on the fly (think the neighborhood in LastFM). Assessment, in a form that is recognised by society, is probably the key component holding these together - society still knows what a degree is. But if that became unbundled you could see how the other elements might be picked off - both by businesses, but also by technology. I’m not proposing this as desirable, just a possibility now in a way that it wasn’t before.

@Andreas - you make an interesting point, openness is a state of mind, not a shiny new technology. But I’d argue that the technology is partly how you realise that state of mind. In the case of sociallearn the aim is to allow you to integrate these simple existing technologies in a learning context. Also, as you suggest, there are elements of the business and/or pedagogic model that are currently not realised, so the project is simultaneously trying to implement these/

@david - the idea is that it’s open to anyone to use, but also that other institutions may take and install a customised version.

7. ken udas - october 21st, 2008 at 9:16 am

I have been giving some significant thought to the idea of independent learners “scratching an itch,” as Andreas describes it, the notion of disaggregation, and openness as a pedagogical intent. My thoughts have been further stimulated by an email I received from my daughter last week. She is 14 years old, is living in a Scandinavian country and has shown aptitude and interest in science. She has identified an intellectual itch to take upon herself “independent study” of biology and turned to the MIT Open Courseware site for some content and some structure for a course of study.

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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