Disclaimer: I apologize that the content of this post is highly theoretical and that you may not have had your first cup of coffee before you even sit down to take a look at the link.
Monday’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the Sloan Foundation, a major philanthropist for online education, is shutting down shop, citing that they’ve “largely acheived their goals.” Online education is on the rise, with colleges and universities barely able to keep up with demand, so now that a major source of funding is effectively gone, what to do? Take matters in our own hands, of course. Using the bevy of free and open source social networking tools at our fingertips, teachers and students alike can create an alternate educational experience.
Or that’s at least what the Edupunk movement claims.
The official definition was coined by Jim Groom, an instructional technologist, who was frustrated with the corporate, closed, and, he argued, oppressive, Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard. The term sparked a lot interest and emotional posts on the internet, and has been the subject of numerous articles, including a 5-part Battle Royale Video Series on YouTube, posted by Educause. Most recently, it was the subject of a SXSW interactive panel, entitled, Edupunk- Open Source Education, (Thanks to Meghan for sending around the link to the podcast found here).
Though the first few minutes of the podcast focused mainly on the oppressive learning structure of LMS’s the philosophical inquiry about the future of the classroom as mediated by technology really struck a chord. LMS often merely recreate authoritative structures found in the classroom (sage on the stage), but what Edupunk also claims is that the systems that are being used are also oppressive and restrictive. If the creation of the internet has shown us anything, its that we can construct our own learner-centered environment. In lieu of giving an entire rundown of the podcast, I’ve posted my short notes below. Instead, I’d like to focus on what two members of the audience pointed out about how libraries should make use of this movement.
The Library should step-up to be a leader in self-learning.
Beyond just being a repository for educational tools, like books or computers or access to databases, one of the audience members re-imagines that libraries are the ones that should lead the way into organizing a new structure of education.
- In a perfect world, how would we use social media + library/internet sources to do this?
- Are we already doing this?
The Library can be a Community of Practice
Using the library space as a gathering point for people who all have the same goal to come together and learn from one another could be described as a Community of Practice. Black Mountain College is an example of an experimental learning space place where there were no formal courses; instead, everyone met in the library and asked questions and held discussion. One of the panelists made a great point that in institutions of higher education, students are all the same age – often the only inter-generational learning is from professor -> student.
- If we are slowly moving toward the library as an online space, how do we reconfigure this comfortable space on the internet?
- Students like to come to the library to study (as we learned from the I Love Libraries entries), so does it make sense to try to provide an online community of practice?
- What are ways that the Library can be involved in the Open Source Education movement, like MIT’s OpenCourseware? Further, how would instruction librarians serve this model?
- Should there be open source librarians?
I feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I have a feeling there will be many more conversations about what it means to create a do-it-yourself culture of learning. Interpreting this as an instructional librarian sounds redundant, because so much of what we try to do is to “teach students to fish,” but how could we incorporate the DIY spirit into our current classroom?
(sidenote: It seems, Tiffani Travis, director of outreach and information literacy at CSU Long Beach’s Library, will be posting about edupunk in academic libraries, soon, as well. I couldn’t find her blog, but here’s her website.)
SXSW Edupunk podcast panel notes
- Panel of educators rebelling against the structured system; a commercialized transaction; sell what we do to a particular system (no individuality);
- Putting education online (LMS; Blackboard, etc) – shovel content // institutionalize content delivery model; point and click, opressive is the right word
- Educational technology preserved the power of authority in schools; internet has taught us that we don’t need it! We can go our own way; Education created and preserved the people who are doing it for their own benefit.
- Sharing of Resources; not just rebellion against the system.
- Do we need to facilitate learning (LMS, Twitter, Facebook); rely on the facilitated commercialize institution to solve a problem (selling user data)
- Clay Shirky writes that tools are a challenge to our modern society, not an improvement.
- Do social tools offer an invitation to rethink how we are educated and learn? Is this social network progress? Intimate alienation — are we any more connected?
- We need to take technology to the next creative level or else it will control us.
- How do we access our own culture? Mash-ups are illegal to access, but it’s how we experience our pop culture.
- RIAA intimidating institutions of higher ed; making it more difficult for people to share their own ideas and their own culture and learning.
- Library as Place -> opportunity for self-learning; needs to step-up; needs to evolve and be a leader in self-learning. Use social tools to institutions need to open up, reduce/avoid beaurocracy
- Change the structure of learning – outside of the classroom learning
- Anchoring the work that we did within the walls, bring it outside the classroom walls. Only learn with people your age.
- Participatory divides – rural communities; libraries; subvert homogeneity.
- Evolution needs to happen now.
- Google book scanning; American Association of Publishers –> how much of libraries are already owned by someone else; how are we going to say, “yes! access to all,” but we can actually provide it b/c we’ve sold it.
- Black Mountain College
- Still thinking of the library as a place for common meeting; public open space; how do we re-imagine space (how do we re-imagine the library space)
- Do we need to provide a common space for people from the community to interact with students? Why are we so locked down? Community of Practice.
- Tyranny of nostalgia.
- Open source academic courses; open source credentialized.
- How can we abandon the system? How does that help? High school teacher – web is censored.
- Move outside the walls when you’re operating within.
- It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
- Universities as Comedy of Errors (we keep emulating one another; we wait for others to do it before we try it; very peer driven.