Walled Gardens

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

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4 Responses to “Walled Gardens”

  1. Janet Clarey

    Re: “…so there’s no need for all those tracking features.” That’s a can of worms. Testing isn’t the only thing an organization would want to track is it?

    I guess I’m a bit more pragmatic. Big ships take a long time to turn around. Based on my experience, many LMS vendors are mashing things up and integrating web 2.0 tools making social learning a reality for organizations with high security measures in place.

    By putting “Learning Management System” in quotes and prefacing it with “real,” I suspect you don’t see value in such systems. What makes an LMS “real?”

  2. Harold

    How about an LMS that helps learners manage their learning processes? LMS’s manage the teaching process, the testing process and the administration process, but I have’t seen much actual learnin’ management, IMHO.

  3. Janet Clarey

    Many commercial LMSs allow employees to create their own learning plan. Not sure how much more management you can do beyond making your own plan. ??

    So for instance, say I work at a bank and I want to be in IT but I’m currently in another department. I wonder what I need to do to get there. What learning activities are available, what competencies do I need? I look and see there are some courses, a community of practice for IT, blogs, a wiki and some informal activities that include having lunch with someone in that position. I also find recommended reading and web sites, etc. and a plan for certification. And *bonus* I have a nice way to track all that in one place so that when I interview for that IT job, the hiring manager can just look up what I’ve accomplished. Sound like a pretty good way to manage learnin’

  4. Harold

    It’s still training management in my mind, but sounds better than a lot of what I’ve seen. A good start …