I’m grateful to Megan Poore (online learning consultant to various Australian Universities) for this and other links. Here’s a link to her excellent tumblr blog – http://meganpoore.tumblr.com/. Being a much more concise thinker than I, Megan tends toward microblogging rather than the swathes of prose I tend to spout on this site.
The man in the video (Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington) is, believe it or not, sponsored by BlackBoard. And even he suggests that the VLE (or the ‘LMS’ as the rest of the world calls it) can’t compete with open-source or other free tools. His prediction BTW is that Google are most likely to come up with the ubiquitous solution for online learning.
VLEs serve certain administrative functions well – particularly sensitive central services like assessment, where identity, authenticity, privacy, Intellectual Property and submission timeframe are crucial in order to achieve fairness. But I’m not so sure that a VLE is the best tool in providing learning – the interface may be (by necessity of technical implementation) just too clunky compared to free web tools, many of which have $millions spent on R&D.
Perhaps there’s a continuum of control that looks something like this.
Centralised account admin ———————————- User-based account admin
Authenticated ——————————————— Unprotected
Closed VLEs ———————————————– open websites
Then perhaps there’s a continuum than comes out of these
Centralised admin ——————————————-user customisation
And, to extrapolate further, perhaps this leads us to a straightforward choice
University-administrated online learning ———- teacher and learner-controlled online learning
Does this equate to a darker, more controversial choice, where centralised University admin systems actually mitigate against optimum online learning? If so that’s a powerful ironic tension between the raison d’etre of a University – to create learning – and the current methods of delivering it online.