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Preview: Comments on: Enough with Facebook already

Comments on: Enough with Facebook already

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By: Jim

Fri, 24 Aug 2007 05:03:24 +0000

Michael, I'm not so much interested in a courseless institution, for I do think the course of study has so really important implications. I just don;t think a course management system does a very good job of capturing, preserving, and allowing students to take their work with them when they go. The technology should not be conflated with the actual unit of organization, it should rather be gossamer and impressionable enough to wrap around a course when necessary and slip travel beyond it when it's over. The spaces in which we think through the ideas of a course need not look like a "course management system" -it might actually look like someone's virtual living room. RSS can take care of the glue, and while it is not entirely efficient just yet, I think we continue to get closer and closer, whereas as CMSs don't exactly provide the kind of slippage other applications might. What would a digital space look like where students record their thoughts, write essays, and share content? Well, it could easily be the same space where students create, play and imagine -or it could be different -but few CMSs -if any- even conceptualize, no less consider, such possibilities. Using a blog or wiki or some other tool doesn't mean doing away with courses, it means doing away with this mistaken notion that a virtual space needs to try and reproduce, however poorly, the logic of a course. Why is this? I don;t know, but a big hunch is that we often try to re-decorate the logic of a course management system rather than questioning it a bit more fundamentally -even if courses don't go away -which they will not and should not in my mind.

By: Michael Penney

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 11:52:28 +0000

Back before Moodle, I did some course sites with Postnuke (a pre- Drupal 'CMS' system), but it was not easy 're-setting' the 'course' for a new semester-something that is built in to systems like Blackboard and Moodle. The instructors tended to want some to all the content they created to be copied to the new semester, keep an archive of the past semester (in case students complained about credit or lost some work), and have a new list of students loaded into the new 'course'). In short, they worked in courses, and wanted a system that did also. This is Sakai's trouble, for instance--it also lacks the core architecture of a 'course', at the system level, and so it is difficult for teachers to transition their content from one semester to another (again, education stuck in the 'course' paradigm). This could all change, of course, but I don't think it is going to be software driven. IOW, there have been open, non-course based, 'Web2.0' systems around for some time now (2000 for PHP Nuke) and yet most institutions have chosen some form of course based system that fits their current educational paradigm. Now if someone figures out how to accredit a courseless institution...

By: OLDaily[中文版] » Blog Archive » 2007å¹´8月20æ—¥

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 01:24:13 +0000

[...] Groomåˆ(image) 说“Facebook已经够了…” Christy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, August 20, 2007. [原文链接] [Tags: Books] [...]

By: jimgroom

Mon, 20 Aug 2007 13:01:23 +0000

Actually Bill, I'm not convinced with the often repeated assumption that a tool is neutral. I know I've said it number of times myself. This idea suggests that tools weren't designed and built for a purpose. It may be used for other things or in different contexts, or even in extraordinary ways, but in my mind a tool is never neutral. Wordpress was built to be a dynamic, customizable publishing platform, and that is what it is for many. It can be customized to work well for students and faculty -but this by no means suggests it as some kind of neutral entity external to the folks who created it. Is Facebook neutral? Is Drupal neutral? This makes no sense really. Neutrality in this context is a myth we use to suggest what has been designed and made available is just a hapenstance we come upon and shape entirely. I think that these tools are so much more than that and reflect particular forms of thinking through virtual space. Think about it, our ability to use tools is a particularly powerful element of what makes us human, both in more horrifying ways (the A-Bomb--was that a neutral tool?) and the pencil (a seemingly benign tool that has given us some much -both in terms of beauty and terror). In fact, context is always important, but it also suggests that without context tools have no meaning -doesn't that hold true for everything and hence become an ahistorical impossibility? The other side of this is that there is the context we are currently working together to shape. What we are using these spaces for and the contexts we engender with these tools (not external to their neutrality but because they have a a particular valence) are integral to the process of thinking about tools in relationship to teaching and learning. Tools are never neutral, they are constituitive elements of our imagination and creativity from their inception and beyond.

By: Bill Fitzgerald

Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:09:13 +0000

Greetings, Mr. Groom, In talking these things through (with an eye on, of course, delivering a better system to support reflective thought and this thing we're calling "learning"), it's essential to separate out technical function from context, and, by extension, the creative possibilities within that context. Understanding the rather fuzzy boundaries of where one piece ends and the other begins allows us to make some clearer design choices -- both technologically and pedagogically. Obviously, technical functionality affects the potential creative output, but a tool is neutral, and aquires value though use. I agree with many of your comments on Moodle -- as the app stands now, it is rooted in a course paradigm, which means, for an end user, most of your activity takes place within the context of a course, or of a hierarchically structured place. Compare this to a WP blog, in which just about everything piece of content is presented as originating from an individual author. Obviously, WPMu blurs the lines a bit, but the contextual difference is clear: in WP (as opposed to Moodle) there is work required to create a course context. RE: "show me a tool that does it better and I will concede" -- I really can't imagine anything that would be better than wordpress... although you might want to give this Drupal thing a look :)

By: Jim

Sun, 19 Aug 2007 14:56:11 +0000

@Shannon -I tend to think from the perspective of both students and faculty using Facebook as an LMS will be more of a psychological train wreck than a technical one. Facebook could probably be glued together to do it, but I do not think it will have much buy-in or impact. I may be wrong, but many of the very issues you raise -such as the nerdy kid vs. cool kid- are writ large in that space. Why engage it when it already has so many associations that reflect the worst of our social relations. @Patrick -You make my point far better than I do. I think I am suffering from a little bit of WPMu induced monomania. That being the case, show me a tool that does it better and I will concede :) In fact, while I didn't mean to pick on Moodle in particular--and its openness suggests so many possibilities--at its core it is still very much a system based on course management derivative of the same structural logic as BlackBoard, the significant difference is its being open source and flexible. In my opinion, Moodle does not provide that much in the way of re-imagining the virtual course space --which certainly can be thought of as a process distinct from the technology--but such a separation is often reductive and misleading. The technology reflects differences in design and experience in a learning environment -a dynamic and creative environment further fosters new ways of approaching teaching and learning. I think of teaching and technology as elements within a dynamic, constitutive relationship of opening up new spaces for learning, or at the very least getting excited about ideas and their presentation. So rather than thinking of technology as necessarily dependent upon teaching (or vice versa), the two simultaneously trace a virtual space that is not autochthonous, but very much shaped, cultivated, and designed by the people using it. The possibility for customization, augmentation, and re-conceptualization is built in to the best of these systems making them a lot more than technology -they're a community of people thinking together and experimenting with the possibilities. WordPress is not just a technology, it's a movement!

By: Patrick Gosetti-Murrayjohn

Sun, 19 Aug 2007 13:22:47 +0000

Ah--but here's a tricky thing--to what degree does your critique of Facebook apply also to blogging platforms like or --shudder-- our own WPMU installation. That's particularly true as the term LMS is sometimes applied to WP/MU. Of course I see differences, but I think we need to attack the question head on, especially for those people who do not (yet) see the difference between a WP blog and a Facebook page. WP/MU _might_ offer more creative ways to use the space, but the ability of the technology to foster creativity, thinking, and imagination is ultimately not a quality of the technology, it's a manifestation of how students are guided in using the technology. In short, how would we respond to folks who say that WP/MU (or any other Web 2.0-ish tool) is equally risky as a 'LMS' -- equally monolithic when deploy at enterprise-scale, does basically one thing well, creates another 'one-stop-shop' for everything, equally susceptible to shallow impressions. I'd aim instead for what I think is the implicit crux in what you say, the notion of the LMS as a monolith (BTW, I wouldn't put Moodle in the same category as BlackBoard that way). Instead, maybe a LMN -- Learning Management Network -- which consists of whatever tools are ready-to-hand for the teaching and learning mission, including Facebook.

By: Shannon

Sun, 19 Aug 2007 04:03:54 +0000

Facebook as an LMS is a scary thought and I have to agree with many of your points. Taking a tool that students use ( actually students wouldn't even call it a tool I don't think) and trying to remix it for academic purposes does not necessarily equal a good idea. Heck, it may sound cool to some students that have no idea what you were probably talking about in the first place (LMS, is that like LSD?) or it will come off as the nerdy kid trying to fit in with the cool kids by buying the same stuff they have. Its annoying and ultimately a waste of time, because those cool kids hate the nerdy kid even more for trying. It is completely unfeasible for it to be any sort of LMS for licensing issues and the space was never designed to be used academically. Students are still figuring out the balance between social life and academics and this is just going to cause more confusion then its worth. Just let the tool do what it was meant to do: be a social space for people to connect, have fun, and perhaps do some stupid stuff. There are too many other cool tools out there that work academically and socially to be putzing around with Facebook.