I confess that I’m not feeling it yet, this heightened buzz about republishing/remixing content. To some extent, this looks like the second coming of learning objects, which is fine so far as it goes, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by David Wiley’s course site. (I say this with fear and trembling, as I’ve learned to take very, very seriously what Brian and Jim and Chris and others in this community get excited about.) It’s a spiffy site, to be sure, and the syndication is a huge plus, but the biggest challenges I face as a teacher are not about content or even content management. My biggest challenges are about inspiring learners, raising their consciousness about what they’re doing as learners and (especially) as a community of learners, enticing them to expose their own learning processes to each other and to me so that magic recursion takes place in which the mind of the class, exposed to the class, becomes part of the class and takes them to the next level. My challenge is to get to real school in which the administrative parts are all means to an end and are never, ever be confused with the course’s larger goals. I suppose that means I’m not likely to have a link that says “download this course” on any of my online materials, even though they’re open to the world. Though I do see how these materials can be helpfully repurposed, I don’t think we’re looking at the deeper opportunities online learning communities and the expression thereof can bring us.
What I’m seeing so far looks sometimes like open lesson plans, sometimes like open link farms, sometimes like open syllabi, sometimes like an outline for a textbook. Where’s the commenting, the student feeds back into the main feed, etc.? Where’s the recursion? Maybe I’m missing something here. I’ll look again. But so far, what I see isn’t blogging (not narrative or provisional enough, not enough of what Bakhtin terms “addressivity”) and it isn’t the mind of the classroom made visible and part of the meta-stream. And without the context of the advanced learner–the teacher–as he or she moves through the shared experience of the course, it’s just not all that interesting to me. When I click on “Using This Course,” what I see is “here’s how to get the materials” and “dive into the Syllabus.” When I dive into the blogging assignment, I see the blogging assignment and the resources, and these are great, but where are the links to the student blogs created as part of the assignment? Where do the students go to see their work entering the datastream of the course? Every course uses prepared resources and generates a datastream during the experience of the course of study, and I’m interested in ways in which the experiences of the prepared resources and the generated resources become symbiotic and mutually augmented.
In his comment on Chris’s first, more skeptical post, Brian Lamb argues there is something genuinely new here:
if there were examples of blog-based courses that were structured so clearly, in a format that will be immediately grasped by even the most mainstream audiences, I wish more people would have linked to themâ€¦
My own skepticism goes like this: the clarity of structure means that it isn’t really “blog-based,” and the format that can be immediately grasped can be immediately grasped because it looks like a more creative and pretty and easily-republishable version of what we’re already doing in an CMS like Blackweb. In some ways, it’s like RSS feeds for Powerpoint slides, except in this case they’re pages or posts in WordPress. That’s not nothing, and I’m sure happy for things like Slideshare, but they’re incremental gains at best, and don’t do much to rethink the activity of publishing the process and materials of learning as experiences and not as containers.
Trying to keep an open mind here….