KF mentioned an academic-blog brouhaha that I’d completely missed, and shortly afterwards I noticed a good thread on the same at Jill Walker’s blog, with a particularly helpful comment by Espen.

I’ve been thinking about this stuff lately while doing an Ed Uni staff development course on e-tutoring; I’ll be e-tutoring myself later in the year yet haven’t actually done it before in a formal course of my own, so it’s been useful. The main eye-opener has been experiencing WebCT 4 from a student’s point of view; the university is upgrading to WebCT Vista this year, but it still feels less inspiring than some of the bulletin board and blog interfaces I’ve long been used to. One of the best online learning and teaching environments I’ve experienced has nothing to do with “mainstream” e-learning at all, but with a few modifications it conceivably could. (Virge, fancy a new career?)

Might be time to sort through some offsite writings on this stuff and recycle them here.

25 February 2006 · Net Culture

"Virge, fancy a new career?"
I've thought about it from time to time, but I'm not actively searching.

That the OEDILF system works is more due to its culture than to any technical aspects. It has:
1. a membership filter that selects people who are intelligent, witty, erudite, and prepared to share/publish their work for free;
2. a focused, passionate director who understands that his project only succeeds if members contribute of their own free will;
3. a complete lack of financial pressure on the contributors;
4. a long term community outlook with no concept of graduation or limited tenure.

As long as the software encourages interactions that reinforce the culture, the members will work around its shortcomings. That allows time for a gradual coevolution of software and community. Applying the same approach to a commercial online learning and teaching environment would not be anywhere near as much fun.

Added by Virge on 25 February 2006.

All true, and it would be hard to replicate those same conditions in any commercial enterprise. I suppose what I'm mulling over is how to replicate some of the strengths of the OEDILF workshopping process in formal e-learning environments. One of its strengths is the concentration on very short, focussed pieces of work, which often invites more discussion than a 5,000-word paper can. It's the same thing that can make for a successful blog, if one measures success in terms of the level of author-reader and reader-reader interaction. (Not that I always do, but the blog world at large seems to.)

Added by Rory on 26 February 2006.

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