Sunday, 18 February 2007

MoodleMoot Albuquerque

MoodleMoot Albuquerque is a wrap. It was an intense day of hallway conversations, great presentations and general good will to all Moodle kind.

Kevin Kelly's (not the former editor of Wired, but the Online Teaching and Learning Coordinator at San Francisco State University) opening keynote discussed communities of collaboration going beyond just the software within Moodle. Kevin has begun to outline the spread of open source methods to other areas within education.

Kevin used Wenger's definition of a community of practice - Groups of people who share a concerns, a set of problems, who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting. He then made a distinction between a community of learners and a community which learns. A community learns by gathering, adapting and generating new knowledge. It then produces artifacts which reflect the changes made by the community through feedback and continuous adaptation to a changing environment.

This is the fundamental difference between the wikipedia model of development and the traditional open source model. By limiting the number of people who can commit code, testing for reversion, and setting targets for set releases, OSS projects are communities that learn. As the software improves, it reflects new knowledge embedded within the artifact. Well-managed OSS projects move against the flow of entropy, capturing new knowledge and structure with most new releases.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, too easily falls victim to the entropy of the system. There is no pre-filter for quality contributors, no way to reify the new knowledge of the community, and no strong measures for managing reversion.

If we are to develop useful open educational resources, we must develop communities that learn and give them tools and processes to capture the learning. We must treat the development of new educational materials like the development of new software.

1 comment:

5tein said...

Jason, I enjoyed your Albuquerque presentation and think your observations on the weaknesses of current open education/opencourseware efforts are on-target. Are you going to make your presentation slides available on this blog?

Also, we'd love to hear you talk about the topic of open education, Moodle, and more at our annual open conference, the Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange in Orem, Utah this coming June.