Education and the Social Web. Connective Learning and the Commercial Imperative

Norm Friesen, Website, Sept 22, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Norm Friesen challenges the combination of web 2.0 and education. "commercial social networks are much less about circulating knowledge than they are about connecting users ('eyeballs') with advertisers; it is not the autonomous individual learner, but collective corporate interests that occupy the centre of these networks." The design of content provisioned on those networks, he argues, detracts from educational purposes. Moreover, the selection of content privileges advertisers. Just as commercialism made television useless for learning, so also commercialism will render the web useless. "It is important to consider the complex and subtle but very effective ways in which advertisers' interests shape online social contexts." If e-learning in social networks depended on Twitter and Facebook, I would agree with Friesen. But the direction of work has been away from those platforms, and more toward non-commercial alternatives.
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