Why I’m not putting in an FP7 bid

A few of us have been working on a proposal for the new framework 7 funding from the European Commission. Our idea was around the central question of how do learners work in a world where content is free, can be reused and remixed. What type of learning environment is needed and how does this affect the learning process? After some discussions with people at the commission it became apparent that they weren’t keen on proposals that focused on, or even mentioned, content. The feeling is that this was addressed in frameworks 5 and 6, which looked at learning objects. For us this meant we couldn’t make a virtue of the openlearn work, which was central for us.

But more significantly I think the division between content and environment is not a valid one to make any more (if ever it was). In an RSS/AJAX world I find the distinction between tools and content is increasingly blurred. As educators are fond of pointing out ‘content isn’t everything’, and I am fond of responding ‘it may not be everything, but that doesn’t mean it’s nothing’. The interesting research question for us is the interplay between the two in a web 2.0 world. How do learners create, share, remix, subscribe, blend content in an environment that they create, share, remix, and blend? This is the key difference with e-learning 2.0 – what you do with content you do with the environment too. Initially you had the content and the environment fixed and packaged. Then there has been some loosening up in terms of content with more exploratory pedagogies. Now the central control over the environment is liberated also, so the key thing to explore is the interaction between the two.

Maybe the next round of funding will be more amenable to exploring this, but given the enormous effort it takes to put together a European bid, I won’t bother this time around when it’s clear that they are after something different.

2 Comments

  1. With content everywhere, the temptation is to view content as a disposable item (even though we KNOW that isn’t true in large parts of the OU, where we feel obliged to write a lot of stuff from scratch…
    Sort of ralated to that, I came across a new phrase today via a presentation on Yahoo Pipes: disposable applications.
    That is, application that are developed with the intention that they are only used once or twice..
    …such as the sort of quick app you might develop in yahoo pipes…
    With content everywhere, and lego-like rapid application development environments, I too can see a blurring of content-publishing mechanism-application.
    If the cotnent isnlt published in a way you can easily take ownership of it to the extent required that lets you do something with it, and if the content isn;t in a format that you can use in your favourite app, the content is essentially closed to you.
    If you application doesn’t read standard formats, and wonl;t release your content in the ways you want to share it, you won;t continue to use the app…
    Maybe…. šŸ˜‰
    tony

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