Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I've been following David's blog from Uni ever since I stumbled upon his work looking for PLE material for my last assignment. David was a year or two ahead of me when I first started uni and had already moved from tutor to part time lecturer. I was definitely considering going down the same path and was very interested in the "back door" approach of simply being in the right circles to demonstrate capability rather than relying on credentials up front. Not sure if he remembers me, but I felt I had a parallel life lived through David's work when I read of his exploits since that time. I certainly don't regret my decision to spend 10-15 years in the industry before burning out and returning to the Uni circuit, but getting back in is going to be hard work. No circles. No back door for me ...

David's blog is an interesting mix of thoughts prepared and presented in article format (complete with references). It's great to see such openness of research and it gives a feeling of "nowness" rather than if I saw the same article buffed up a bit in a journal. The questions seem more real. The problems may or may not be solved. A permenant "watch this space" sign drags me back on each new post.

A The PLE project has now started to take shape with new staffers being added to look squarely at the problem of getting the most out of Web 2.0 in a learning environment. A recent post asked more questions about what it is that PLE is trying to achieve, with a big focus on perspective.

Well, here's my perspective:
Web 2.0 is all about addressing the communication layer.

When you're sitting around chatting about ideas with peers it's a pretty fluent process. Immediate feedback controls the shape and tone of the conversation to achieve maximum thought transfer in a minimum amount of time. We're good at it. No, we're great at it. We've developed highly attuned skills for communicating face to face.

Writing has always had its place for communication, but the lack of immediate feedback made the medium more informative rather than participatory. The development of social networking has been guided by the desire for participation, the desire to contribute to the global conversation. Faster, faster! Don't let anything get in the way of the ideas flowing!

"Maximum thought transfer, minimum time" should be the catchcry of PLEs in a digital world. Web 2.0 offers a vast array of communication channels that are useful in different circumstances, but it stil has a way to go. Communicating should be as easy as talking to the guy next to you, but also giving freedom from spatial and time constraints. You should be able to contribute from America, pause or rewind the conversation, flip between 5 conversations in different spheres of interest, hook in to the flow of the conversation rather than watching it from afar.

Now I'm just dribbling. Lucky my typing speed sucks ...