Learning management systems vs. social network systems

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Learning management systems vs. social network systems[edit]

James Neill's response[edit]

I am interested to see a couple of edtech heavyweights (Gsiemens and Martin Dougiamas slug it out on this gsiemens blog post about learning management systems versus social network systems - but sometimes you'd think these guys have never heard of a wiki?

@gsiemens and @martindougiamas - thanks for this discussion. My main concern with both LMS and SNS approaches is the lack of primacy given to collaborative editably of learning content - in the LMS (such as Moodle) what's possible is rather centralised and generally locked down - a "teacher" can't do much except add a few links to boxes and embed some stuff. A "learner" can do even less. In a social network, there's connections and conversations everywhere - in fact this seems to be what is priveleged - but (at least with CCK09) the whole things seems a bit "floaty" - what about getting down to collaboratively creating and editing shared content? I'm wondering if maybe connectivism is significantly North American? (Individualism + Conversation - penchant for talk therapy etc.) At least I found in my experiences of USA educational style, that talking and discussion is very important to the educational culture. But, after all the talk, the action seems problematic. Also, a difficulty I've had with CCK09 is that "readings" are seemingly locked down to editing (but can be converted/forked by the intrepid) and there is limited (practical) availability of recordings etc. (in a limited range of closed formats).

I enjoy your edtech work, guys, and the thinking and discussion that goes with it, but I puzzle and scratch my head about how come we don't just learn together in real-world open spaces where anyone can edit (and without using proprietary software) forever? Maybe we're grappling like blind men with the elephant - I reckon you guys have hold of pieces of the elephant - and you're right. And I hope its the elephants nuts I've got hold of and not yours. In blindness. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 08:43, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

George Siemens's response[edit]

Hi James - I had to chuckle at your final statement. Took a bit of time to sink in. ouch. Hope it is the elephant.

The biggest problem that I see with networked learning right now is what we are experiencing now - fragmented discussions that are not aware of each other. The mix (and the magic) is in the aggregation. Aggregation can create a similar sense of space to what a centralized forum has now. But, participating in networks of distributed content/discussions is a big cognitive shift for most of people.

I don't think connectivism is unique to North America. We constantly connect and exchange information. Whether or not we indulge in additional discussion/debate may be more NA & Europe centric. But the core of connecting remains.

Good point about readings being locked down. That has to do more with our need to meet U of Manitoba's criteria for a course syllabus than our own views. The limited range of formats of recordings - again, excellent point. We rely on Elluminate for recording the sessions. They have a file conversion tool...but it take time to run. Last year we encouraged attendees to make their own copies of sessions. The limit here is again not ideological - it's technological.

Beyond SNS-views of learning, I agree that greater collaborative activity needs to be promoted and fostered. Wikis are a great example of this process. Regrettably, most wiki software is not well understood by the majority of educators (either conceptually or technically - wiki language can be a bit challenging for some). But, as we more forward with next generation learning software, we cannot overlook the importance of collaboration...