I’m a big fan of LastFM, and whenever I find some technology I like, I think ‘what would this be like in education?’. Let’s play the technology determinist game for a while, and imagine what would education (or even just a course) be like if it was built around something like Last.fm, would it be a Last.uni?
Here’s how it might work. Imagine educators don’t create courses or give lectures but they create loads of resources: podcasts, articles, blog postings, animations, video clips, etc. Last.uni draws on all the databases where these resources are stored. In your Last.uni player you enter a subject you are interested in, lets say it’s ‘technological determinism’ (to be all ironic about it). Now, what you get back is a stream of resources that are initially about technological determinism, but as you work through them they will be about related subjects. These connections will have been established by tagging and data mining. So after the first couple of resources on technological determinism there is a podcast on Marshall McLuhan. You rank this as something you are interested in, and the search is further refined.
Being Last.uni it is of course a social networking tool, so you can see who has also listened to the podcast, and if you feel so inclined, invite them in to a chat. As you continue to use the tool it generates a set of neighbours, that is people who have ‘studied’ similar resources as you. This in effect becomes your loosely defined student cohort, and you can use tools to arrange weekly discussion sessions.
As you continue to use the tool and you build up the list of resources you have liked it creates a set of recommendations for you, effectively building your course.
Now, there’s a bit of a need for guidance in there, (how do you know to look for technological determinism) and I’m not sure where the educator fits in. Maybe they become redundant – thats why it’s the Last Uni (gulp)? Accrediting the knowledge you get through Last.uni would probably require an eportfolio type approach (which would of course be built in to the tool).
So, any takers?