The Leisurely Historian has a nice post on what education can learn from the punk zine movement, which flourished around the time of punk. One could also expand it to any fanzine movement really (football fanzines would be another good example), where the DIY ethos makes them more valuable to a certain audience than the glossy, formal productions.
He lists several things we can learn, which I'll touch upon, but you should read his post:
- All you need is Sharpies, tape, and a Xerox machine – ie a lot can be achieved with relatively low resource. For a zine this meant you didn't need an expensive printing press. For an educator this is even more relevant with the proliferation of free tools. You don't need a corporate VLE, or an enterprise licence for broadcast, you can create it yourself from various tools and embed them in a blog.
- Fast and ugly is better than slow and pretty. This is probably another way of thinking of the perpetual beta, and also to move away from thinking everything has to be broadcast quality. Learners will often trade relevance and currency for quality of production, eg they'd prefer a regular vodcast that really helped them with their studies to a BBC programme that was interesting, but tangential.
- Don’t cover what your audience can find elsewhere – oh, how relevant this is for education. This might be the biggest lesson educators have to learn over the next few years. In a pre-digital, pre -internet age the educator did cover everything (supplemented by books and articles), but now there really isn't any need now to provide most of the content. Instead it is the process of link, embed, interpret and provide structure that an online educator adopts.
- Change things up when they get boring, but stay consistent enough that people can find you. This could again be a take on the perpetual beta approach. It isn't necessary to engage in a long user consultation exercise before undergoing a radical overhaul of design, you can change elements and if people don't like them, change back.
- There’s always some lonely kid in rural Iowa who needs to hear what you’ve got to say. Read: Long Tail. In a global education market, and if the cost of course production is low enough (because you're using free tools and content), then you can find an audience. The Semiotics of Soccer anyone?
- Make friends with a disgruntled Kinko’s employee. By this, he means zines used to get friends in offices to do photocopying for them. In the case of edtech it means take advantage of the free stuff available.