Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

First, the post. Clint Lalonde discusses the widespread adoption of Zoom to support online learning in the current crisis. Why Zoom? Lalonde offers various explanations (incumbency, marketing, business model) but the main reason is this: it actually works. Lalonde also depicts the company as a "move fast and break things" company, but nobody cared about any of that until we all started using it. If Zoom hadn't made tech that works, nobody would be having this conversation. Now that they're successful, everyone's a critic. As though we should have just been satisfied with all the non-functioning conferencing solutions out there (you know who you are).

Now for a postscript. Lalonde says "I don’t think what is happening right now can be or should be considered online learning or distance education... Online learning is planned, deliberate and thoughtful in the sense that online courses often take months or even years to develop, not days or weeks." No. No no no. People who think like this are the ones who are breaking online learning. Look at the newly resurgent Twitter, "a lot of great sharing, support and conversations. It feels like the best of what Twitter and a PLN is." Exactly. People stopped planning their Twitter messaging strategy and just started sharing.

Online learning should be fast, fun, crazy, unplanned, and inspirational. It should be provided by people who are more like DJs than television producers. It should move and swim, be ad hoc and on the fly. I wish educators could get out of their classroom mindsets and actually go out and look at how the rest of the world is doing online learning. Watch a dance craze spread through TikTok, follow through-hikers on YouTube, organize a community in a Facebook group, discuss economic policy in Slack. All of that is online learning - and (resolutely) not the carefully planned courses that are over-engineered, over-produced, over-priced and over-wrought.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Nov 27, 2020 08:54 a.m.