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Co-design (Part 2)

November 23, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Further thoughts on the Jisc co-design consultation. Running short of time, so will keep this brief. The strand currently of most interest to me is ‘next generation digital learning environments’ 

Background: Co-design (Part 1)

I’ll look ahead to the 2020s tomorrow but briefly it’s useful (for me at least) to consider the last 10-years or so.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly a lot of the consultation discussion has focused on the VLE. A student’s digital learning environment is, of course, much broader than institutionally provided systems (and today our institutional systems extend way beyond the VLE).

Looking back 10-years or so… could we ever have imagined today’s digital learning environment?

Err, yes. And no.

Little change

Ten-years ago I was at the LSE and for the majority there I’d say the institutionally provided digital learning environment was very much the VLE, some library e-resources and desktop-based software. From 2005-8 we investigated, piloted and implemented Moodle (replacing WebCT). Alongside that we dabbled with blogs, elgg (remember that??) and a little later I think, Second Life.

Ten years later and the 2016 VLE is little changed. Overall usage has grown, and the VLE’s use for e-assessment in particular, but what the systems actually do, look-like and enable… not so much. They are certainly recognisable. One area of change, in terms of systems, has been the arrival of new online tools and services, which have extended the institutional digital learning environment. I’m thinking of lecture recording and e-portfolios in particular.

Why not? It’s easy to blame the systems shortcomings and they could be better. But innovative practitioners who want to try new things, can do, even if it requires some clunky work-arounds. The inertia and lack of change ultimately comes down to people and the approach to teaching and learning at our institutions.

Two big changes

The big change we (certainly I) didn’t foresee in the mid-2000s was the social media (aka web2.0) explosion and the participatory nature of the Internet we have today. It was September 2006 when UK universities first got access to Facebook and not until 2008 that Twitter really took off. The bigger digital learning environment has changed dramatically in contrast to university provided tools.

A change we knew was coming, which is central to digital learning environments today was mobile. (Although personally in 2010 I suggested the iPad would never catch-on).

That will have to do for today. Tomorrow I’ll finally get to the #ngdle questions that Jisc are asking, the overarching one being:

What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?

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