The term “social” has become quite popular amongst those involved in Web development, marketing, journalism, and many other fields. Education isn’t immune to that trend. “Social media” seems to now have claimed the title of overused term from “Web 2.0.”
However, these technologies that allow sharing of information, more importantly, coordination of efforts and co-authoring of knowledge, do in fact play an important role in society and Education.
Technologies like micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and many others are commonplace in any Educational Technology blog these days.
But why is it that corporations and institutions seem to to keep focusing mostly on the mass production of self-contained, self-paced, self-service learning experiences canned in Learning Management Systems (LMS) that only care about reporting page clicks and final scores in formats friendly to our famous Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)?
Whenever social media is implemented in the workplace or at school, it seems more like an attempt to “do what everyone else is doing so we’re not behind” but everyone struggles to understand the real value of doing it. It’s almost like it social media is secondary to our traditional forms of learning support.
With the current state of eLearning, we are creating isolated and isolating, lonely, mechanical learning experiences and blaming it on “autonomy”, on “self-pacedness…”
The focus needs to be shifted to the value in creating networks of learners to support informal, life-long learning that takes place in “communities of practice” that offer real life learner-to-learner support and empathy. eLearning as it is now, “courses” encapsulated in Flash and HTML, needs to become the secondary learning experience… or at least be just a support knowledge repository, a place learners go to only to start understanding concepts before diving into discussions with their peers in their communities. In the least, we need to allow learners to go build discussions around the existing courses. Experiences similar to what technologies like VoiceThread allow us to.
The issue is, perhaps, that institutions don’t know how to track real learning. They know how to tally number of page clicks and quiz scores, but not life-long, real learning…