Since I’m interested in learning management systems, I thought Stephen Downes did a great job distinguishing between how generation zero and generation one view online learning – is it more about the content or the interaction? It’s a fascinating topic I never considered when thinking about the evolution of technology. He thoroughly explained how MOOC’s bring the two generations together. Downes describes how selecting content relevant to one’s personal preferences and context allows students to create an individual perspective (Downes, 2012). He further argues that in a connectivist course, working with content does not mean memorizing the information, but engaging in the “process of creation” (Downes, 2012). Stephen’s ability to weave generational history and online learning together was enlightening to say the least.
However, I keep referring to self-directed learning theory every time I read about online learning because most of the literature suggests that learners in a virtual environment operate at a high level of self direction and instructors act as facilitators as opposed to teachers. Most college freshmen in my classes need lots of guidance, direction, and support from me as their teacher/advisor. So how does online learning in the 21st century work with less autonomous learners? I struggle to relate the readings to my student population.
I kept going back to Downes’ ideas about learning management systems and agree that they are content focused. I use the archaic Blackboard mainly as a tool to deliver content to my students. I am interested in Downes’ e-learning 2.0 theory. E-learning 2.0 is based on the fourth generation of technology, otherwise known as web 2.0, which explains how content management systems interact with social networking sites. Social networking sites are actually cloud storage sites that store my personal data or as Downs describes it – “data being applied to networking” (Downes, 2012). I specifically googled Elgg since I had never heard of them and Downes called it “novel technology to this day.” Elgg is a social network software for education. The software gives companies the components to create its own online social environment through blogging, filesharing, networking, etc. I couldn’t help but think – could this be a knowledge sharing platform? Like I shared in my intro blog, I’d love a platform that is capable of capturing tacit knowledge of employees. A place where employees can quickly go to find information shared by colleagues. I like the idea of “in time learning” – needing to know something when the time arises. In a typical work day, employees like myself are so busy and don’t take the time to learn something new until presented with a problem. The quick solution could be to use Elgg as a knowledge sharing platform. A byproduct of knowledge sharing could also be connectivity and creating a sense of online community. A social networking site that is controlled through the organization is definitely a novel concept that has tremendous possibilities from an HRD perspective. I will admit my google research was limited to Wikipedia and the Elgg company website. Perhaps I’m not thinking of it in the right terms, but this is how I could envision a content management system interacting with networking sites from a corporate ed perspective.