Read/Write Web (an excellent source of information on all web 2.0 tools) has its latest piece on e-learning, with e-Learning 2.0: All You Need to Know. One thing I like about these articles is that they don’t come from the e-learning profession, so they really represent client or learner opinions. The article itself covers a few tools, like Elgg, ChinesePod and Google Apps for Education, as well as the more traditional Blackboard LMS.
It’s a good overview and asks for more feedback from readers. I find the ensuing comments more interesting than the article.
For instance, “One common denominator of these e-learning apps is the inordinate focus on the ‘e’ and not so much on the ‘learning.’ ELGG, Sakai, and others are outstanding products to be sure, but they only provide a framework — so where does the learning take place?”
If this question appeared on one of several edublogs, there would be lots of opinions expressed, as well as helpful pointers. My own response is that any technology that we use for learning is a framework and that learning occurs within individuals and often as a result of social interactions between people. Learning does not happen inside the technology.
Another comment, “What we need now are the tools to join up the wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc in a way that the old LMS systems would.” I’m sure that many in our field (including me) would suggest that “small pieces loosely joined” is a good thing and that we already have the glue that can join the tools – RSS.
And another comment, “Personalized learning is a wonderful idea, but what we need are clear standards that will enable all of us who have laboriously built learning management systems to integrate content from publishers.” I am sure that this could fill a few pages of commentary from my colleagues around the world. We could always discuss the history and details of SCORM to cure anyone of insomnia.
My final comment on all of this is that almost any technology can be a learning technology. It’s how it’s used, not what is used. What’s the difference between a conference room and a classroom? What is the difference between a CMS and an LCMS? Mostly branding, I would say. This is one reason that I’m keen on non-educational tools (SNS, wikis, blogs, social bookmarks) in that they are not constrained by some pre-conceived notions about learning. I can use these tools for instruction or for guided study or for discovery learning, just as the same physical classroom can be alternately an exciting learning environment or a prison cell.