I dropped a comment on Glen Davies’ post on LMSs and socially networked software, pointing to an ITConversations recording of a talk by Rob Curley. Glen responded with a new post about the talk and has touched on some important ideas I hadn’t considered while listening to the recording.

“In the new millennium journalism can no longer be a monologue, it has to be a dialogue with our readers”. Surely that applies to education as well.

I think it does certainly apply, but its the most difficult. We have people entering tertiary education with expectations still to be told, and we have an overwhelming majority of teachers who are quite comfortable doing the telling. Even with all the banter about socially constructed knowledge, on the whole – the furthest that seems to get is assigned group work! argh 😦 But to be fare, the availability of socially networked software and even the Internet could be seen to be still quite young, and may take more time to have an effect. I’m still quite hopeful that the technology will determine practical changes in teaching.. it’ll just take time.

The other concept was that of hyper local journalism. As Rob Curley pointed out, there was no way his local paper could compete with CNN for international news, so their online paper dedicates itself to local news and this has been the key to its success. Food for thought here for institutions involved in learning. Perhaps the key to success is in going hyper local/hyper specialised, rather than trying to compete on a global scale.

I find this idea quite exciting. In NZ, the vocational education and training sector – namely the Polytechs, have been instructed to better serve the local community. At first that didn’t sit well with me because I am used to collaborating on a slightly more global scale and couldn’t see how localisation would work. Now with Curley’s talk and Glen’s interpretation – I can see how it can happen. This reminds me of the concept glocalisation

And the final point was his comment about their youth oriented service. They set this up completely separate to the newspaper, with its own identity. One of the reasons being that a newspaper run by an over 40s editor trying to pretend that it appeals to a young audience just doesn’t work. The same thing goes for institutions and elearning companies trying to set up their own social networking sites, etc. they just can’t be hip. I can’t help thinking that if the social networking/web 2.0 concepts are to have any impact on education, and appeal to learners, they need to be kept separate from the traditional institutions.

I think the issue I mention in response to Glen’s first idea is present here as well. We have students paying hefty fees for their education and training, so they come to us not only with a specific expectation and behavior for education, but also with an expectation of purchased product. How do we ask students – or the younger ones in this example – to forget about the education they have come to expect and now have to buy, and take ownership and control of their learning environment? How do we grow this market into a conversation? Do we help people with their digitally networked literacy (after we have helped ourselves) and then leave it to them to self organise – with a few prods from carefully constructed assessment tasks? or is there another way? I certainly agree that providing the platform and artificially inseminating it is not going to work at all.