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More thoughts on Eduspaces

December 17th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I have been pondering the implications of the demise of Eduspaces. I am not privy to the thinking or reasons why Curverider decided they could no longer support the service but it is not too difficult to understand some of what has happened. Moreover, the closure raises a number of issues of longer term significance.

Eduspaces was formerly elgg.net. Essentially when Elgg was launched elgg.net was a space for people to try out Elgg. Because the Elgg developers, Ben and Dave, came from a background in education – and the original ideas behind elgg were developed through working on ePortfolios – the major take up was in education.

Elgg took off fast – it is a very good product – and Curverider was in a dilemma. Despite a successful product they had limited infrastructure and little income. Eventually they got organised and whilst remaining committed to supporting Elgg as free Open Source software, they turned their attention to developing commercial services to provide a stable basis for their work. All very sensible. Over time, Eduspaces was floated off as a separate community. Now it appears they feel unable to continue to support what is a very different community from their core development efforts.

The big issue for me is whether when a small company develops such a product and service, it should be supported by the publicly funded education community. Whilst s0me would say this is not a role for education organisations, education does support large vendors through buying their products. Why, just because software is free and open source, should no such support mechanism exist? Of course Curverider can apply for various grant fundings. Pontydysgu works in many funded projects. Yet these projects are short term and it is hard to make enough money to survive.

Why should the edcation community support services like Eduspaces? Many would say that it is not for the education community to host and provide such services – better to leave it to the private sector. In my view we should host such services because we need to support and develop communities. Eduspaces is not just Elgg. It is a (almost unique) world community of educators. This in turn raises a new problem. Educational institutions and organisations support students and researchers in their own institution and their own country. The very strength of Eduspaces becomes its weakness. Yet if we believe in learning through communities, through open knowledge exchange, through social networks, this process cannot be left to the private market. This is the learning arena of the future. If nothing else, we need to support communities like Eduspaces as an experiment in knowledge sharing and community development. Not as a subsidy for Elgg but as a service to the education and community. And such communities should not have borders, either institutional or based on nationality.

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10 Responses to “More thoughts on Eduspaces”

  1. Terry says:

    I couldn’t agree more. We have been piloting Elgg at my insitution and in the process have tried to piggy-back and associate Elgg with a number of JISC project bids. These have all been unsuccessful or the bit that would have produced development money for Elgg was dropped. The hope had been to get some money for Ben and Dave, and latterly Curverider, to do some development work for us. There must be a better way of financing projects like Eduspace. Advertising didn’t work. Perhaps we all need to look down the back of various sofas in our institutions. What would be ideal I guess is for some educational NGO to take it over. We spend millions on subscriptions to e-journals and VLE licenses. Why not modest contributions to a centrally provided community platform like Eduspaces?

  2. There is a very interesting open discussion on all this with lots of opinions on all this at the Eduspaces Site Forum: http://eduspaces.net/mod/vanillaforum/vanilla/comments.php?DiscussionID=50 . You’d better take a look at it. We are discussing on how to maintain the Eduspaces community in several ways.

  3. By the way, you can also find the official explanation of the shut down of Eduspaces there: http://eduspaces.net/mod/vanillaforum/vanilla/comments.php?DiscussionID=52

  4. I also have a number of elgg projects happening at the university and have recognized the need for some non profit organization to maintain eportfolios and social networks for lifelong and lifewide learning. The idea that our work and our student’s work and connections are locked into a licensed environment like webCT or a commercial marketing entity like Facebook doesn not sit well with me.

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  1. […] Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu December 17, 2007 [原文链接] [Tags: Schools, Online Learning, Learning Communities] […]

  2. […] Eduspaces, some good commentary from Tony Hirst, Brian Kelly and Graham Attwell (and as usual from Stephen Downes), and I can’t add too much. It’s always dangerous to […]

  3. […] Eduspaces, some good commentary from Tony Hirst, Brian Kelly and Graham Attwell (and as usual from Stephen Downes), and I can’t add too much. It’s always dangerous to […]

  4. […] Eduspaces, some good commentary from Tony Hirst, Brian Kelly and Graham Attwell (and as usual from Stephen Downes), and I can’t add too much. It’s always dangerous to […]

  5. […] Eduspaces, some good commentary from Tony Hirst, Brian Kelly and Graham Attwell (and as usual from Stephen Downes), and I can’t add too much. It’s always dangerous to […]

  6. […] Eduspaces, some good commentary from Tony Hirst, Brian Kelly and Graham Attwell (and as usual from Stephen Downes), and I can’t add too much. It’s always dangerous to […]

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