I’ve mentioned the ‘small pieces [of web 2.0 tools] loosely joined’ idea as an alternative to a monolithic LMS before. I don’t have the direct blog posting but I found it via Jay Cross (his Informal Learning Blogis a goldmine for web 2.0 conversations). Emerging technologies from the ‘read-write’ ‘2.0’ web we are likely to be working with these days in the education field offer mind-boggling advantages, but there’s a price to be paid methinks. Most applications are sort of free (Facebook, blogger, Second Life, frapps, wikispaces, etc etc). However, this last week or so I’ve been extremely conscious of the ‘juggling’ mode (I suspect I’m not alone in operating in) at work, in my learning and personally. The work-life-study balance is a juggling act for many. Any of these can be chunked down into further juggling acts.

Let’s take the ‘small pieces’ aspect of the Emerging Environments for Learning course through USQ. We are exploring some pieces such as tikiwiki, mahara and moodle (core tools, our separate interest areas for our facilitated pages and projects open up myriad further tools). There’s no single sign on for these components, although I think it’s time to investigate the OpenID option as it may allow me to bring these together in some way. I’ve used ‘janicebreenwhite’ for my knowledgeGarden activities, not realising it becomes an oddity when logging in to it as one component in the course.

Thank goodness I kept the same password! I’ve had to create and maintain a special file listing all the tools I’ve created accounts with: the usernames, passwords (enough hints for me to know which they are) and any specific email account they are associated with. All the small pieces, (bloglines, del.icio.us, wikispaces, Flickr, Scribd, slideshare, blogger, wordpress, facebook, bebo, this course, ezine subscriptions, email accounts, online repositories… and that’s without our online banking and workplace setups), are in danger of becoming a ‘dog’s breakfast‘ (translation of this colloquial term… imagine the scene) and management is definitely a significant factor in juggling participation in contemporary digital environments.

And I straddle the digital native-digital immigrant divide! I’m a defacto native. Some of our students face the challenges of comprehending and navigating between multiple windows running simultaneously, let alone what we are doing.

I find myself wondering if and when I’d have learned about this community resource if I hadn’t enrolled in the Emerging Environments for Learning unit led by Peter Evans (as part of my M.Ed study through the University of Southern Queensland) this semester. It is possible I might have come across links to it on some of the sites/blogs I visit but there’s no guarantee: let’s call it serendipity! John Seely Brown acknowledges the power of serendipity for learning 🙂 but that’s another post perhaps.

A new node in my network (see connectivism), a fellow learner in the unit I’m doing this semester, Deepak Prasad, posted what I’ve discovered is an awesome resource: WikiEducator where we are invited to join this community in “turning the digital divide into digital dividends using free content and open networks“.

I’ve copied an extract from the home page that explains its purpose:

The purpose of WikiEducator

The WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative:

  • planning of education projects linked with the development of free content;
  • development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning;
  • work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs.
  • networking on funding proposals developed as free content.

I can see I’ll be visiting it often and hope to be able to contribute in some way as well as benefit from the extensive opportunities it presents: a vision well worth working for. The Content page currently covers Education Background (the full continuum of formal education from early childhood to tertiary, and teacher education); Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC); technical and vocational education; professional development (elearning and ICTs, free and open education resources, workshop toolkits and health); active development hubs; funding sources & other.

It’s supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) which is “an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies”.

One resource example is the Designing for Flexible Learning course offered by staff in the Educational Development Centre of Otago Polytechnic and is designed to help both formal and informal learners access and interpret models, research and professional dialogue in flexible learning. I followed links to a great section on reflecting on learning (the context being with blog tools).

Leigh Blackall and Bronwyn Hegarty look to have constructed some amazing learning experiences and spaces here. My apologies to any others contributing to these I haven’t recognised in this post.

I’ll be sharing this resource with my fellow learning designers, something we do is share links to interesting resources in our community of practice. I suspect I could spend every waking moment exploring leads less awesome than this one, and the informal professional development time ‘allocated’ in our working week certainly couldn’t afford to support such a learning path. However, when it might contribute to the ‘greater good of humanity’ I believe being paid doesn’t matter so much.

USQ is exploring a web 2.0 approach this semester, even more-so in this unit with Peter, using tiki wikis and mahara for an eportfolio. It is certainly looking like an interesting learning experience, adventuring through interesting learning spaces.

Thanks for any interest,

Janice