cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Thomas Hawk
I have never been the Devil’s advocate but occasionally I play him on the Internet. This started as a comment on Jim’s post so reading that might make this make some sort of sense.
I keep thinking the LMS is symptomatic. It helps
solve obscure problems like -How can I grade my class of 300+ students? It helps mechanize a process we’ve increasingly commodified, packaged, and scaled.
The institution can, and probably should, focus on providing more than the LMS but there’s a big part of me that says it doesn’t matter. If tilde spaces were given now, they’d be mainly barren. The problem is not the centrally provide space. I don’t need the institution and I don’t buy into the dependency model that seems to be part of that assumption. In fact, I need an institution far less than I would have in the mid 90s. If I want a tilde space, I can go get one and I can do far more on it than HTML. Stack Overflow is a magical fountain of answers. If you want to do something, simply go do it. Be a clueless wanderer. We (USA, North America, the world?) have an intellectual obesity epidemic because people sit around waiting to be given/told/instructed . . . The mentality is I can’t do that. I haven’t been trained. The social accepted context that you are static until acted upon by some higher power.
The fact is you can. Really. Almost inevitably I haven’t done any of the things I do until I’ve done them. Sure, I stagger and stall (occasionally fall) but I both research and ask for help. “Sure, you can do that.” is one of the most disempowering things a person can say. Other people don’t have superpowers. I am not a unique snowflake. You could do it. You don’t have to wait to be trained. You are not a seal.
The problem, at its core, isn’t lack of institutional support for open web resources, it’s a mentality issue- it’s a lack of interest in doing interesting3 things, or lack of confidence, or lack of imagination, or lack of understanding about what is interesting, or lack of time/energy to do interesting things, or fear of anything/everything, or a hundred other things.
The DoOO project doesn’t interest me in terms of resource provisioning- that’s just reselling a commonly purchasable product. It’s interesting because of the integration into courses at scale and then the intentional building of interrelationships between those courses. It’s interesting because of the ideas and communal aspects, the rethinking of possibilities. I don’t know, but I don’t think the fact that UMW is (re)providing the resources matters at all.
I’d say that the reason the tilde spaces were interesting is because they didn’t have real institutional level attention. It was an odd space, inhabited by odd people, and only viewed by other odd people. Once that attention was given, when those spaces were seen as important, then the wheels of policy, consistency, marketing, and other millstones start to grind away.
Numbers aren’t the answer but I have to imagine there are immensely more people (students and profs) doing far more powerful and interesting things which have a far broader audience and impact online than there ever were in the mid 90s.