Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Stephen Downes re-appears for a moment... with a gem!

A lot of OLDaily bypassed my little brain. But, when Stephen gives talks like this, I can understand, I can keep up.

He's been off visiting the Magdalene Islands, doing a spot of navel gazing: a kind of why do I do what I do thing. I can understand that - the man's work rate is phenomenal, and it's easy to get so caught up in what we do that we forget why we do it.

Net result? His epiphany is that the notion of "It's not about the technology, it's about the learning" is only half right. His view is that it's not about the learning either. It's about the pursuit of happiness - a good, meaningful life. The test of whether our education system is not whether people have learned certain things, but about whether they are happy and fulfilled.

There is so much to chew on in Stephen's talk that, if I were to highlight it all, I would wind up reproducing the whole speech. For my part, there were innumerable "hear, hear" points. One of which is that traditional online learning is not here to stay. How do we know? Because it's not what people want. How do we know? Because when people want to know something, it's not what they do. He quotes Michael Feldstein:

“We need a system that is optimized toward slotting in new pieces as they become available, not as an after-thought or an add-on, but as a fundamental characteristic of the system.”

This brings us to the learning network, where learning becomes resource-based, rather than institution-based; where it is about the content, rather than the organization; where it is web-based and aggregated rather than product-based and pre-packaged; where e-learning becomes a conversation in which learners are engaged.

Thanks to web 2.0 (e-Learning 2.0, whatever), the web is no longer a place where people go to consume media, it is a place people go to do things. As educators, we need not to see ourselves as delivering a service but as enabling people to deliver a service themselves. The web is now the platform rather than the medium.

I guess this made me sit up and take notice because it is exactly what I am aiming for on a current project. I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve it, but I'm even more determined to give it my best shot!

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