DIY is here

Over three years ago I wrote that the future of learning is DIY:

With Google you can find most information that you need. YouTube is a quick and easy way to get “learning objects” to the world. Apple gives the essential tools for knowledge workers, and in a nice package. Wikipedia has shown that the wisdom of crowds is just as good as the wisdom of elites. Starbucks gives free-agents and road warriors a place to meet and work. These top brands provide the equivalent of the interstate highway system for the creative age.

Enabling DIY (do-it-yourself) on the Web appears to be a good business model. Even on the fringes, such as wi-fi from a café. This is the power of informal learning, if organisations decide to enable it. It has to be DIY, user-driven and uncontrolled. People will figure out what’s best for them, as they have for millennia.

Has anything changed?

There seem to be more DIY platforms today and they are being used, though the business models are not yet clear. Facebook has enabled DIY ridiculously easy group forming, but it comes with a price on privacy. Ning was wildly popular as a DIY online community builder, but that business model did not seem to work. Open source Elgg may replace Ning with a non locked-in platform, but its success remains to be seen.

For mass DIY, ease of use is the trump card. Just look at Google Docs, the best and easiest DIY online collaboration suite, in my opinion. I remember using Writely (sold to create Google Docs) and it had a better user interface in my opinion, but was only used by digital savvy folks. Google dumbed-down the interface and functions and that ease of use, plus growing demand, made Google Docs a market leader. Timing is everything.

Now that many people have used DIY tools for their online work and play, I can’t see the trend being reversed any time soon. Enabling DIY should be a prime directive in the development of technologies for collaborative work and networked learning as well. Please pass this on to those folks in e-learning 😉

2 Responses to “DIY is here”

  1. Brett


    Have you had a chance to read “DIY U” by Anya Kamanetz? It is more geared toward the evolution of ‘formal’ learning, but carries many of the same themes. I’ve heard Kamanetz speak about the book and it is at the top of my to-read list. (I would have finished it during my 2 day layover here in Houston, but unfortunately the book is in my suitcase which is already in El Paso.)

    This idea of DIY also fits in well with another theme I’ve come across lately: local/regional sustainability.


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