Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Crowdsourcing the Future of eLearning

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

May 05, 2011

Based on points submitted beforehand, and the discussion at the final plenary. Paul Stacey created a slide show based on the contributions.


- it's not about e-learning, it's about we-learning. The idea that post-secondary education will be available to all worldwide.

- the idea that each Moodle institution might sponsor a new Moodle institution in a developing country. Or students in one country creating a Math 8 course for all students on Moodle. Kind of like the tutoring Grannies.

- online classes and institutions might develop local capacity by developing courses and resources for a global audience. One of the major issues this addresses is how to get people to share existing knowledge and capacity.

- it's sort of breaking out of that idea of catchment boundaries, that we're trying to serve a local audience.


- allowing students to 'friend' courses on different sites, and share forum messages from similar courses around the world.

- make learners into prosumers by giving them the tools they need to create. The idea of making students co-creators of the course, by creating definitions, wiki entries, etc.

- students can be involved in the establishment of parameters for assessment.

- students should be self-directed in the future of e-learning, picking and choosing what they take, and the manner in which they take it.

- but students still need support, they have difficulty working on their own. So there needs to be a whole set of support tools to help self-directed and self-paced learning.

- one of the things that is not done well in course design is formative evaluation, and maybe there are ways to enable students to support this.

- Martin makes a plug for the survey module, which is not widely and effectively used. This supports formative evaluation of the course.

- we will have to start trusting students more to take control of their learning, listen to their feedback, and be confident in their ability to contribute.

- maybe set up a separate instance of Moodle just for students to use


- courses of study will be planned and assignments interrelated so that at the program level students can see interconnections between multiple areas of study

- students are engaged in self-directed learning so students are focused on outcomes (but not content - the shuft away from content is a recurring theme). let them decide how they will learn and demonstrate how they have acquired the learning.

- student support in terms of personal learning plans, e-portforlios, competency profiles, self-testing, etc. Having the e-learning be personalized based on learning styles

- having students lead the learning, either on a self-directed or peer-to-peer basis

- content be thought of as being an on the side vehicle for acquiring those skills; e-learning should not be fixed to a particular resource or canonical body of resources; focused more on research in learning

- having courses that sense what students already know, so they only work on stuff they don't

- the inevitable comment that "they don't know what they don't know" and that "sometimes they need to do things they don't want to do". Yes (in response) a good teacher will disrupt thinking, to help them see what they don't know, so they want to know - it's messy, but that's what makes it personal for them (as opposed to industrial) - that's why we want activity-focused, rather than content dump

- Martin talks about a keynote by Richard Clark at the Austin Moot who did a lot about research on 'this versus that' - the things students like are not necessarily the things they are learning from


- the idea of teachers and instructors being facilitators rather than instructors

- instruction will revolve around interdisciplinary community-based projects (as opposed to the way faculty work in a fairly autonomous way) - this can be done on fully mobile devices so classroom location is not necessary

- the idea that teachers need e-training to improve online pedagogy

- creating and offering online courses will be so easy my grandmother could do it

- 'small' schools, grades 10-12, will have specialist courses, and students will have access to those specialists, and specialists from other courses

- many students will need daily contact in a structured classroom situation

- as a nursing instructor, went from being a lecturer to a tutor to a counselor - less and less need for deep knowledge of the subject, and more and more need for deep knowledge of interpersonal skills

- on the teacher as evaluator, some of the dichotomy of self-paced versus instructed comes together in the area of evaluation - the evaluation may be the challenge - is there a way the teacher can challenge the learning objectives set by the student?

- there is a fear that if we move to teacher as facilitator, that's not the same skill set teachers have now. Right now it takes a great deal of content area skill as well as facilitation skills

- being human online is essential. And we need to remember how new and unfamiliar the online environment still is to many people


- mobile learning will become the medium of choice with projected screens and keyboards. Holographic projections will replace video. Immersive tech will replace audio and video

- with cloud computing and mobile, people will use learning any place and time. People will learn when they play

- there will be a central repository of learning

- a revised user interface

- shift from a pull-from-server to a push-to-subscriber. Learning should move to the personal area network. This might help us break out fo a schedule-based top-down delivery model.

- student records, marks, courses, communication systems., etc., will all be on the same system

- eLearning will make no sense in the future, it will be standard learning with content, etc., online

- biometric authentication for test-taking

- it's a team project; the trick going forward will be will be choosing which technologies, when do we move, how far do we jump, how much do we invest

- technology when appropriate, but there's something to be said for meeting face to face. Eg. the QR codes on the badges at the Canadian e-learning conference was pretty stupid, I didn't see anyone using their phone to read the name they could read on the badge


- what about the guild model of learning, where you join the pjilosophy for life, where you always have access and community?

- we need a flexible model of credentialing where you set out your own learning path, credentials where you prove what you know, not where you learned it, a portfolio approach, skills oriented

- credentials from e-learning will be seen as a higher achievement

- continuous learning will simply be how things are done; it will be learning while earning

- is it really about how much we know, or the nature of what we know

There was some discussion about whether it was even possible to get a crowd-sourced talk like this, and obviously it worked fairly well.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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