George Siemens has written a blog post about Blackboard’s take over of Elluminate and Wimbla.I agree with him in saying this is an astute move by Blackboard – however I am not quite sure what he means when he talks about integration allowing mangers to buy the educational process. OK – so Blackboard moves beyond being just a VLE. But the educational process is still dependent on pedagogy, whatever tools are integrated in a single application.
I am also very dubious about his view on the evolution of online learning environments. George says:
Over the last eight years, the market has experience enormous change (web 2.0, virtual worlds, social media, networked learning). But many things have settled in the process. Some universities are beginning to focus on a big-picture view of technology: making learning resources available in multimedia, integrating technology from design to delivery, using mobile technologies, and increased focus on network pedagogy. Blackboard (and LMS’ in general) have been able to present the message that “you need an LMS to do blended and online learning”.
To counter this view, the edupunk/DIY approach to learning has produced an emphasis on personal learning environments and networks. To date, this movement has generated a following from a small passionate group of educators, but has not really made much of an impact on traditional education. I don’t suspect it will until, sadly, it can be commoditized and scaled to fit into existing systemic models of education. Perhaps Downes’ Plearn research project, or OU’s SocialLearn project will prove me wrong (I really hope they do!!). For the purposes of this post, however, the brave new world of online learning will be dominated by LMS like Moodle, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and regional players like Fronter.
I have never seen edupunk being a movement which would move in and takeover the traditional education system. What edupunk does provide is an alternative to traditional pedagogy as well as showing there are other routes than commercialisation of education through technology. I don’t expect any institutional manager to announce a new policy based on edupunk? But what we are seeing is increasing numbers of teachers using social software for tecahing and learning. The impact of that is far harder to measure than the number of VLEs adopted by different educational institutions. It will also probably have a far more profound impact of tecahing and learning and pedagogic approaches to using technology.
The second impact of PLEs, edupunk and social software is in the developing ideas and practice around Open Learning. Knowledge and learning is escaping from the institution. And long term that will be the greatest impact of all.