New university model take 2

Stowe Boyd has given a more detailed account of our discussions than I did and Marc Eisenstadt has also blogged on it . I don’t quite agree with Marc that elearning was/is "awful, dead, soul-destroying", and the elearning 2.0 stuff marks its death, for me this is a prime example of the succession model I drone on about in my book, and evolutionary change. The presence of ‘traditional’ (ah, how quickly things become traditional now) elearning, say through a VLE, creates the base layer of competence and familiarity and generates the questions and desires that makes the next stage possible. In short they alter the environment to make it favourable for the next wave of colonizers.

But that is rather by the by, back to the new social space learning – one thing Boyd’s posting triggered was some thoughts on what the thing is. Is it a platform, a community, a new accreditation model? Answer – yes to all three I think. There was some discussion as to who the competitors might be for such a thing, and at the moment no big ones were identified. I suggested that in some ways, the individual was the competitor, because they could create this environment for themselves, for example with a bit of 43Things, some Facebook, a discussion list, etc. I was (rightly I think) disavowed of this belief, and I’ve been thinking about why the individual response is not the competitor. Here are some suggestions:

i) It’s the community, stupid. Although you can locate communities for almost anything, the space would provide a natural home for them, so why not go there?

ii) Convenience. Although I can find my own content and tools, if the convenience factor is higher at one space, then I may as well use it.

iii) Specialised services. Things like accreditation and support which I can’t get elsewhere.

iv) Quality and reliability. If the reputation is high, content is good and past experiences favourable then it’ll be your first choice.

I think all of these reiterate the critical mass point I made in the earlier post – particularly i and ii – you only get these once the social networking becomes rich enough. There are ways of doing this, but it’s not an exact science.

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