The ability to interact directly with a course website and the materials in a course using my own webspace/digital commonplace book via Webmention seems like a very powerful tool. I’m able to own/archive many or most of the course materials for later use and reflection. I’m also able to own all of my own work for later review or potential interaction with fellow classmates or the teacher. Having an easier ability to search my site for related materials to draw upon for use in synthesizing and creating new content, also owned on my own site, is particularly powerful.
Certainly there are some drawbacks and potential inequalities in a web-based approach, particularly for those who don’t have the immediate resources required to access materials, host their own site, own their own data, or even interact digitally. William Gibson has famously said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Hopefully breaking down some of the barriers to accessibility in education for all will help the distribution.
There’s also questions relating to how open should things really be? How private (or not) should they be? Ideally teachers provide a large swath of openness, particularly when it comes to putting their materials in the commons for others to reuse or remix. Meanwhile allowing students to be a bit more closed if they choose to keep materials just for their own uses, to limit access to their own work/thoughts, or to potentially limit the audience of their work (eg. to teachers and fellow classmates) is a good idea. Recent examples within the social media sphere related to context collapse have provided us with valuable lessons about how long things should last, who should own them, how public should they be in the digital sphere? Students shouldn’t be penalized in the future for ideas they “tried on” while learning. Having the freedom and safety to make mistakes in a smaller arena can be a useful tool within teaching–those mistakes shouldn’t cost them again by being public at a later date. Some within the IndieWeb have already started experimenting with private webmentions and other useful tools like limiting audiences which may help these ideas along despite their not existing in a simple implementation for the masses yet.
Naturally the open web can be a huge place, so having some control and direction is always nice. I’ve always thought students should be given a bit more control over where they’re going and what they want out of a given course as well as the ability to choose their own course materials to some extent. Still having some semblance of outline/syllabus and course guidelines can help direct what that learning will actually be.
Some of what I see in EDU522 is the beginning of the openness and communication I’ve always wanted to see in education and pedagogy. Hopefully it will stand as an example for others who come after us.
Written within mind.