The sweet spot in education


Above is a slidecast of a talk I gave to a JISC Emerge conference recently entitled ‘Finding the sweet spot between web 2 and education’. My basic argument is that new tools encourage this overlap between areas we used to keep distinct, for instance home and work,personal and professional, individual and institution. A lot of people see this as a ‘bad thing’, but I think it has enormous potential also. Why do I spend time blogging or in twitter? Because it is both fun and work, because it’s social and professional. I wouldn’t bother to spend as long in a discussion forum of educational technologists who only talked about ed tech. Yet, most of my twitter network are people associated with ed tech, and I spend a bit of time in there every day. Why? Because it helps me professionally (it’s how I keep up to date, I can put out queries, I create a network of peers, etc), but also because it’s social – we chat about football, films, etc  and share jokes, have chats, etc.

And that’s just one example of the sweet spot – creating my edupunk video was, for me, another. I created it over a weekend, and it was kind of work, but mainly fun. It was partly for me, but also a gift to the community (whether they wanted it or not). This was much more motivating than doing something purely for its own sake, e.g. writing a report for a committee. I argue that making learning a gift economy is something we should foster.

The ideas are a bit ill-formed at the moment, but I think there’s something in this, so want to explore it further.

One Comment

  • Gary Lewis

    Hi Martin – You folks at OU are certainly into some impressive things. And the direction represented by the sweet spot seems right on target. My only concern is whether it can be accomplished within an existing institution. Maybe it can be done at OU. It’s well worth trying. Do you have a sense of how hitting the sweet spot would work for other institutions? Is it a model with enough general persuasiveness and appeal that it could form the basis of institutional change in higher education? Or does hitting the sweet spot require a entrepreneurial foundation outside of existing educational institutions? Thanks again. … Gary

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