Weller “using learning enviroments as a metaphor for educational change”. In a nutshelll….when new technologies arrive we tend to use them in old ways. So, the current generation of VLEs are built to replicate a centralised virtual university. You rock up to the VLE (like a lecture) have information for that week presented, collect a number of readings, have a think about the things you are told to think about. The VLE mirrors the teaching practices of the redbrick, based on assumptions that information is scarce, that much of learning is about facts, that authority figures can provide nuggets of info and that students should follow along. In contrast lifelong learners do learning (actionable knowledge) shockingly without control – they go off looking for things they need to know and use a variety of tools (blogs, twitter, email, websites, wikipedia etc). They connect with people who are interested in the same things, collaborate and get on with it by embracing openness, crowd power, and participation.
Weller also writes about the movement from “information bound to the object”, to metadata created in a different place (eg. online catalogue to books), to a third stage where everything is available together (info, metadata, images etc). In the space of this third land its we who do the mining and filtering. When information, expertise was scarce and communication hard, then it makes sense to centralise and bring together an academic community under the umbrella of a university. Now however, this is not necessary so why do we do it? The inference is that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant and Weller predicts that “The back channel will grow and it will be constituted from content and communication technologies that don’t require a training course to understand and that come with a ready made community.”
Weller’s answer lies in something along the lines of Social Learn where students build a network “over time” making use of tools connected by APIs and interoperable standards and some “eduglue” linked to some kind of (central) profile which holds learning goals contacts and resources.
Interesting, but far from convinced.