Communities of Practice and Wrap-Up

Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, Jun 23, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

My blog notes from Day 2 of the Canadian Council on Learning conference. This second day was mostly a day of discussions, with the participants breaking into four groups (which in our case in turn broke into small groups). I've never been a fan of this group-and-report format, since it can be a way of filtering the views of the participants through a lens provided by the organizers - the 'reports back' never seem to carry the same sort of edge contained in the participants' actual views. Just my perspective.

Anyhow, what emerged for me as the major theme of the day was the generally anti-technology nature of the participants. My computer was one of two open during the conference. Still, several groups recommended the provision of tools (I mentioned JISC but that didn't make it to the plenary floor). I also felt many practitioners see themselves as offering services and bringing activism to the people, though some delegates did emphasize the need for people to manage their own learning and to organize themselves. So there's a bit of a generational change happening in the field, I think.

That said, I think the CCL has a challenge before it. There seems to be a disconnect between its approach and methodology - which is focused on, shall we say, measurable results and return on investment, and that of the practitioners, which is focused on, shall we say, social justice. And in the middle somewhere, with a technological edge, comes personal empowerment and informal learning. The fact of multiple agendas (and multiple methodologies) is inescapable - but is CCL ready to acccept that?
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