Where Is Learning 2.0?

There are some interesting discussions that are occurring around the edublogosphere right now about corporate learning vs. edupunk. I just commented on items that Gina and Tony discussed, with their thoughts partly in response to Jim’s and recent thinking about edupunk ideology. As an aside, all three of their blogs are well worth reading for different perspectives on Learning 2.0 (and if I may, Jane is also doing some interesting work in this area).

In a nutshell, they are all discussing corporate and academic learning using Web 2.0, which is (oversimplified, I know) fundamentally what Learning 2.0 is all about. While we can debate the hows and whys of this, I am more immediately interested in the wheres right now. Where is all this happening? I struggle to get my graduate and undergraduate students to use Twitter, a wiki, del.icio.us, and a host of other technologies, and while some do adopt them, most are not interested in anything other than what they are already using (which, once again in a Nutshell, means YouTube, and to a lesser extent, Facebook). In my corporate work, the issue is similar–many people struggle even using internal podcasts, much less blogs or anything Ajax-based. It would seem short-sited to only use what students already use (somewhat like teaching them only what they are already comfortable doing, which would even more limit education, but I digress).

Where are these teaming populations busting at the seems to use corporate and educational Web 2.0 elements in learning? I live and work and consult primarily in Manhattan, and this is where most of my learners are as well.

I am wondering if the questions we are considering are perhaps too limited. Perhaps we should be asking “where?” these learners are, as I am wondering if these social and networking and learning and sharing technologies out there are not more proliferate in less demographically busy areas, such as New York? Can it be that Web 2.0 is more popular where people are not so concentrated, due to necessity? Thinking pragmatically, why should I take an eLearning class when we have enough people and expertise for face to face instruction? Why should I post to a discussion board when we can discuss it face to face in class (which is how most NYC academic institutions seem to prefer to operate)? Do I really need to post my pictures when I see all of you and can send you a link? Doesn’t RSS work better when I don’t readily have access to what I need?

Thinking about this in another way, how many people do I follow and speak with on Twitter who live near Manhattan? How about the bloggers I follow (as I heavily use RSS to process the information overload I face), are they also here? With exceptions to be counted on less than one hand, the answer is no.

Yes, I am intentionally taking a contrarian position here, and those who know and work with me know I have a passion for integrating technology so thoroughly into learning that they are no longer seen as parts of a whole, but just “learning.” Instead, I am hoping to move this discussion forward by considering another element I think we need to more actively consider.

9 thoughts on “Where Is Learning 2.0?

  1. Adoption will always be a struggle. Your current adult learners have a hard time “getting it” because they don’t see value in changing their habits. I think that every time you want to introduce a new technology, you also need a value proposition, a business case, and have them have a debate around it. This way, they can internalize the “whys” of using it.

    Following your (blog post-relative) logic, I hope the “natives” (I hate the term, but it’s now mainstream) won’t force us to use Club Penguin to build learning activities when they get into college…

  2. Matthieu, I agree with you completely. Odd, but we have those value proposition conversations, though I still find this like pulling teeth, something like “we have all this reading and homework to do, and then this stuff as well?”

    As I mentioned in my liveblog last week while watching Tony present http://silenceandvoice.com/archives/2008/06/02/e-learning-20-for-personal-and-group-learning/, there generally seemed surprise by how few learning professionals in organizational settings seem to use these technologies. If the educators struggle to see the value, what hope have we for the students to try new things?

    Remember, I am not speaking about those who are in middle and high school now, and while I taught in both of those groups years ago, I am not very current in what happens there now.

  3. Jeffrey, admit coming into this discussion without context but have to say based on what I saw at Enterprise 2.0 Boston demo booths Learning 2.0 is coming whether organizations and learners are prepared or not. Microsoft was showing a YouTube like add on to Sharepoint enabling anyone in an organization to upload and rate videos. The implication is that centrally created corporate learning videos will give way to peer-to-peer shared and created content. Microsoft was distributing a Learning 2.0 white paper by a big consulting firm. Regret I can’t recall which one. Trust all is well with you. Jenny

  4. This is great to hear, Jenny. I think there are so many possibilities out there, but I am just not quite feeling the demand from the users yet. I suspect this will change as more younger folks who have used these technologies as an integral part of their lives enter the workforce.

    I am afraid of forcing these onto people, though I have done so at times, as I recall the backlash after the first wave of eLearning–remember, when the classes were too large, too long, too bandwidth and technology intensive, and costly without accounting for user and work change strategies?

  5. I have experienced some of the same responses from some groups of students, as well as co-workers. I am asking myself the same questions…

    Less often I have students who are interested in learning new ways of approaching things and begin using and exploring learning 2.0 technologies. I am not sure if the value proposition is more easily seen by those in outlying areas, as much as it is in the mindset of the individual. Change is more easily affected in some than in others. Perhaps it is the psychology of it that we should explore. I admit that it does feel somewhat impossible at times. One approach that I am taking with some of my smaller classes is building the use of learning 2.0 technologies into the assignments given in class. You can see an example on my current class blog.

    Some students appreciate this, while others are completely frustrated by it.

  6. Nicole, thank you for your comment. I am glad I am not the only one with this experience, and think you are right on with your assessment that the pyschology behind this needs some investigation.

  7. Jeffrey,

    I have to agree with you that the idea the Web 2.0 is ubiquitous is a flawed one. There are certainly pockets of uneven development, as with all things. And the idea that NYC is one of them is fascinating to me. Upon a trip up there in April, I was certain I would spend far less time online if I lived their, because the city is simply awesome, and demands your attention and labor far more than any other place I have been to. So you may have a very interesting theory there.

    As for the whole question of where this is? Well, I think the term Web 2.0 has been useful, but has forced us and corporations to focus to specifically on a set of tools and resources, something I am guilty of –but which I know is flawed. The idea of injecting new idea that focus on a committment to engage and innovate with a space may not have as much to do with technology as we think. It may have far more to do with community, connecting, and re-imagining. Web 2.0 has an underlying logic of progress and new and better and shiny, it begins to cramp any sense of the ideas and people that are key to what we do. And as corporations jump on the bus, the push to centralize and make all these things that much simpler and easier reframes them as less an object of innovation than one of efficiency and convenience.

    I know this is a dangerous argument, and I am sure there are holes, but at the same time, technology intersects at points with teaching and learning, and may provide specific set of possibilities, but it is the people behind this ideas and the ability to frame your own space in a distributed discourse that remains far more important than any notion of ease, affordabity, and logic of centralized design –something which I personally see further dulling the value of a term like Web 2.0 –and further forcing those folks who were not using it to see it as just another thing they should do.

    Make it optional, make it meaningful, and make it fun —more than that make it their own.

  8. Wow, Jim, you certainly have some really good thoughts here, and I appreciate your raising them.

    A few thoughts about a few of your comments:

    “So you may have a very interesting theory there.” I wonder if anybody has looked into this? As you mentioned, there is a lot to do and stay busy with in NYC, and employees and students are no different than the rest of us. Why have a virtual community when I can have a physical one?

    “Web 2.0 has an underlying logic of progress and new and better and shiny, it begins to cramp any sense of the ideas and people that are key to what we do. And as corporations jump on the bus, the push to centralize and make all these things that much simpler and easier reframes them as less an object of innovation than one of efficiency and convenience.” I wonder if this is something only corporate, or if academic institutions do the same thing to try to streamline, maintain their networks, maximize on economies of scale, and try to have a single message to get across to a faculty often still content to continue business (teaching) as usual (in other words, in the same way as they learned)?

    “technology intersects at points with teaching and learning, and may provide specific set of possibilities, but it is the people behind this ideas and the ability to frame your own space in a distributed discourse that remains far more important than any notion of ease, affordable, and logic of centralized design –something which I personally see further dulling the value of a term like Web 2.0 –and further forcing those folks who were not using it to see it as just another thing they should do.” I agree. The last thing we need to do is turn off more users (learners). I wonder if the technology gap between early adopters and the Tipping Point (thank you, Malcolm) is itself growing so large that educational technology folks are becoming more academic in that they speak a language and use technology disconnected from the world (that is, the world of mass use)? I think I may need to develop this thought a bit more in another blog post.

    I am glad, Jim, you are helping me to push my boundaries here.

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