Following up on Boring is Good, I think that the major barrier to use of these systems, whether collaboration or learning-oriented, is the “walled garden” framework. If I have “to go” somewhere, then that’s a barrier to use. E-mail comes to me, so it’s easy. Personally, I prefer using my feed aggregator to follow people and news. I use my blog and then perhaps Facebook to write once and publish to many. I find these tools EASIER than e-mail, but I’ve been using them for a long time.
For small groups, e-mail still works well, even though many of us have seen its limitations in terms of finding something buried in the pile. What will work are small applications or widgets that let the learner/user add what is needed at the time. The problem with most organisations (schools, businesses, universities) is that they force the learner to adopt to their system. And what makes it worse for the learner is that they cannot transport any artifacts from one garden to another. This begs the question, how can walled gardens enable cross-pollination?
A simple method for online collaboration for an educational institution would be to ask each student and staff member to have a blog. it doesn’t matter which blog platform is chosen and not everyone has to use the same one. For course work that requires posting of information or conversation around it, just decide upon a common Tag for that course, lesson or theme. Add in social bookmarks, wiki spaces for collaborative work and maybe a social network and let everyone use whatever plug-ins they need. All the institution needs to do is provide some aggregation, cataloguing and external indexing and there you have a real “Learning management System”. The testing function can be kept separate from the learning (as it should be), so there’s no need for all those tracking features.
That is how how your walled garden can become a resilient and growing ecosystem.
Photo by recursion_see_recursion