The LMS is dead! What next?

A few days ago, I noticed this great post from Jane Hart (@C4LPT) on my twitter feed,

I have long felt that the LMS is a solution for yesterday’s challenges and I’m pretty sure more and more L&D professionals would say it’s time to move on and support learning wherever it takes place rather than expecting learners to come to one central location for all of their learning needs. Apart from anything else, if we are serious about informal and social learning, or about learning transfer (see Thallheimer’s Learning Transfer Evaluation Model), we really can’t expect one, central platform to do the job. When I commented on Jane’s post, I was understandably asked, “so what’s the proposal to organize and manage the elearning/video/training content instead?”.

From my viewpoint, the key is to think ecosystems not platforms. We should be encouraging learners to develop a self-managing mindset. Most importantly we need to realise that most learning doesn’t happen on the platforms we provide but “out in the wild”. I could’ve detailed why the LMS is no longer necessary, but this post on Modern Workplace Learning has that covered.

For me the LMS has had its day – it’s like training wheels on a bicycle: you use them to learn the basics and then discard them when you can cycle without them. In online learning terms, at a time when learners perhaps lacked the overall competence or capability to navigate around the web, the LMS was important to give people a safe/ constant environment to access material. Whether that is still relevant is up for debate.

Think Ecosystem, not Platform

What do I mean by ecosystem? This description from Dani Johnson and Priyanka Mehotra is  a pretty good working definition of a learning ecosystem:

“A learning tech ecosystem is more than the sum of total of the learning technologies. It encompasses technology that is bought specifically for learning, business technology that is adopted for employee development, and enabled technology that employees use in their personal lives for learning.” (Redthread Research October 2019)

The team I manage has been designing learning resources and services for years using the ecosystem model as the “infrastructure” for our work. We are a public body which regulates a large, geographically dispersed workforce and promotes their education and training. Our audience includes 2,500 employers and 205,000 paid staff (as well as 450,000+ informal carers, volunteers etc.). So, as an umbrella organisation, we are trying to provide solutions for a highly diverse workforce (in terms of job role/work focus, location, educational background, age gender etc.). Therefore, one centralised platform just doesn’t make sense. In our context, the ecosystem essential to our work. Johnson and Mehotra provide a very useful summary of the spectrum of approaches from centralised platforms to pure ecosystem approaches:

For my work, the focus is at the “Pure Ecosystem” end of the spectrum: We use public distribution channels as much as possible (eg Apple App store; GooglePlay; Apple Books; Spotify; Apple Podcasts; Vimeo etc.) as well as providing a curated portal to our range of learning resources and services. All provided free of charge on an open access basis to anyone who’s interested.

Given the diversity of the audience we’re trying to serve, the ecosystem approach is the only approach which makes sense. But, more important than the mechanics of the system,

“having a strong philosophy or strategy at the heart of the ecosystem increases its scope and its potential for success.” (Redthread Research October 2019)

When I tell people I manage a Digital Learning Team, they automatically assume that my focus is on technology and are surprised when I tell them it’s not. My focus and design process always begins with the nature of the learning and the learners. The vision (or philosophy) that guides our work is about adopting approaches to learning that will support the development of self-directing, self-managing learners.

For me, developing an effective digital workforce development strategy requires both vision of the goal you are trying to achieve and identifying the tools and infrastructure to realise that vision: having a goal to increase the digital capability of a diverse workforce and then forcing them to do this via one centralised platform seems contradictory – The tools need to reflect the task (and more importantly the intent).

This leads me to the hidden downside of monolithic, centralised platforms for learning – by insisting that learners use one platform, we condition users who lack confidence or capability to become dependent on the platform we provide and we run the risk that they never develop the confidence or skills to move beyond it.

The ecosystem approach on the other hand encourages learners to ‘forage’ and explore. As well a providing support to learners to develop capability directly, we enable the development of digital capability through tacit learning (see – and and we avoid learners forming a dependency on one system. Undoubtedly, for some learners this will be challenging but, the skills they develop will benefit them beyond the learning ‘event’ itself and help them down the road to achieving the vision we have: i.e. over time, they become self-directing and self-managing as learners.

The concept of Personal Learning Networks (i.e. the connections we make with people, services and resources which we use for our individual learning and development) has been accepted in the learning technology field for over a decade. Yet, despite the general acceptance of this concept for the individual, the learning technology community has clung on to the LMS rather than look to mirror the PLN at an organisational or pan-organisational level via the design of learning ecosystems. Growing a learning ecosystem isn’t an easy option. You need to continue to refine and evolve your approach over time to reflect changes in your environment (not a core requirement of the centralised platform approach) and this takes time, money and effort – an you need to take your audience with you. But, we need to learn from nature,

“Natural ecosystems are designed to change and evolve … Learning tech ecosystems should be no different.” (Redthread Research October 2019 p.33)

My view is that it’s time to take the training wheels off and commit to the longer term, and admittedly less comfortable, solution offered by learning ecosystems and enable our learners to develop beyond (well-intentioned) spoon feeding approaches to providing learning.

Extending the conference experience with VR

The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn conference took place a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve ever been to DevLearn, you’ll know that it’s a fantastic event with thousands of delegates, engaging and inspiring keynote speakers and a huge range of interesting and enlightening workshops and seminars. As you might’ve guessed, I’ve been lucky enough to attend DevLearn a couple of times. This year I wasn’t so lucky.

Working in public services has meant that securing the funding and permission to travel to and participate in events like DevLearn and others, (e.g. Online Educe Berlin) has become increasingly difficult. Sure you can follow along on Twitter and see everything that is notable to people you know who are there, but it’s not the same as being able to choose what you want to attend or draw meaning from you hear and see. So, thinking about how frustrated I felt at not being able to go to DevLearn (or support my staff to go), I started to think about how we might use the technology we use to deliver learning to our stakeholders to allow us to “attend” events like DevLearn virtually.

Now, before going any further, I’d make the point that the best way to experience these events is to actually be there – in person! The chance encounters and informal conversations with other delegates can provide as many learning moments and connections as the formal sessions do, and I don’t think we’ve reached the point with technology where we can replicate those virtually (though I’m very happy to be proved wrong). But, when faced with an absolute barrier in terms of travel or finance, surely the very technology being showcased at digital learning events could be used to provide a parallel (and still paid) virtual experience to delegates who simply can’t be there in person?

The careful placement of 360 video cameras (like the new GoPro Max or Insta360 One X) in conference rooms could allow virtual delegates be in sessions via VR video and there are a range of backchannel tools beyond the obvious social media platforms which could allow these delegates to interact with speakers/workshop presenters in real time. If virtual delegates were signed up in the same way as delegates attending in person, event organisers would even know which sessions (beyond the keynotes) would be most popular for virtual delegates thereby allowing for the best use of tech and bandwidth at the event.

One of the great things about DevLearn is the service they provide to people who’ve never been to the event before to guide people to get the most out of their conference experience. This could translate well to the virtual experience and enable virtual delegates to wring the most out of their experience too.

Thinking about this has made me consider how I can take some modest steps to do something like this for the events we organise in my day job and address the challenges of time and place (albeit on a smaller scale) in my working context. Time to go buy a 360 camera or two I think.

The Role of Community in Learning

Defining community in a learning context

I’m a whole week behind everyone else on eLearning 3.0 and frantically playing catch up. So, that means this is probably going to be a short(ish) post.

Much of the material for “community” week has focused on consensus and the place of technology in the process for arriving at consensus. The conversation with Pete Forsyth , and Stephen’s video on the role of Blockchain in distributed decision making was an interesting exploration of this. Pete’s accompanying blog post was also an interesting exploration of how Wikipedia avoided the many issues around breach of trust and misuse of technology which have plagued social media of late.

But, rather than delve further into those areas, I want to take a look at what we mean by “community” in a learning context: What is the role of community in the learning process? Is consensus the optimum environment for learning and developing? Is technology the central issue in this area?

Is community really about technology?

Let’s start with the last question first. Whilst it’s hard to argue that the technology used to provide online spaces for communities of various kinds isn’t important. I’m not going to do a deep dive into the potential of blockchain etc in providing viable and desirable alternatives to the Web 2.0 platforms which are in the news so much these days. That focus, in my opinion, risks taking us down a parallel path to the data debate – removing consideration of people and their behaviour from the process. Let’s be clear – technology is just a tool. It’s how people use the tool which ultimately helps us decide whether the tool is beneficial to us or not.

So, I’m going to take the view that community in a learning context isn’t really about technology. It’s about people and conversations. Harking back to a comment I made in a previous post, content is everywhere. People aren’t always good at identifying the ‘good’, the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’, but it’s out there. What isn’t always readily available is a space to help individuals make sense of all of that content. For me, this is where community comes in. Facilitated discussion of learning with peers can be the key to helping individuals make sense of the material they are exposed to. These conversations allow us to explore the ideas we’re trying to integrate and the various viewpoints and experiences others bring can help us arrive at a deeper and more reasoned approach to building our new learning into our existing schema.

Which brings me back to consensus. I’m not sure that consensus is always the optimum environment for a community in a learning context. If we only participate in communities with others whose views mirror our own, are we not in danger of creating echo chambers? For me, strong, vibrant and interesting learning communities are those where there is diversity of viewpoint; where we are encouraged, as learners, to challenge received wisdom, not simply absorb it. In this scenario, it’s the moderators/facilitators who play the key role in creating an environment to foster debate in a safe, constructive manner. The technology is only a tool to support the process.

Making sense of learning

Sometimes we need props to help us with all of this – we need scaffolding on which we can hang our developing or changing understanding of the topic(s) we’re studying. This blog, for example, is my personal prop to encourage and enable me to reflect on the content of eLearning 3.0.

Some years ago, I worked in higher education as a lecturer and tutor on an undergraduate social work programme and part of our curriculum was set aside to help students learn how to differentiate between fact, opinion and judgement and how each would impact their future roles in social work – after all, if you are in a a position where you are making life-changing decisions about citizens, you’d better be clear for the basis of those decisions.

In the years that have followed, it has occurred to me on many occasions, that the teaching we did on this, shouldn’t be viewed solely as developing a professional ‘tool’, but rather as developing core, essential life skills (especially in light of recent issues surrounding social media).

As someone who spends all of their working life attending to the development of social service workers of all types, it also is impossible to ignore the role that reflective learning plays my work.

In human services education, this reflective style of learning is seen as one of the core learning methodologies not just for initial education, but for continuing professional development. Yes, it could be a solo effort (much like I am doing here) but, in my opinion, is best done in dialogue with others and/or in groups (ie in a community of practice). It is the analysis of the whole learning process (content, application, outcomes etc) which is seen as the optimum state offered by the reflective learning process and community can provide the wider context in which to place the individuals’ learning experience. After all, we all need to know, “Is it just me?” or, “Is my experience shared by others?”.

So, to wind this up – I’d make a plea that we don’t lose sight of the importance of conversations and dialogue in our definitions of community. I believe that it is diversity, healthy debate and discourse which pushes learning forward, not technology. It’s only a tool and though it’s clear that many of the current tools aren’t really working, I’d argue that’s down to the human element – those providing the tools and those using them. Will blockchain and other Web 3.0 tools provide the answer? Only time will tell.

CARE: open education resources and the distributed web

Where are we today? – Open Educational Resources (OER)

Having focused on the ‘wiring’ of eLearning/web 3.0 for the past few weeks, I am delighted to now be moving into areas where we consider how that ‘wiring’ might be used in the delivery of learning and development.

In reviewing some of the material around this weeks focus, it reminded me that the notion  of royalty-free, open source material has been around for a long time. In fact my first activity in this area was several years ago when the vogue term was “Reusable Learning Objects” (RLOs) – the idea being (crudely) that learning objects (ie text/video/audio etc with general learning outcomes and interaction/learner activity) could be created and shared via online repositories, thus reducing the duplication of effort across learning environments.

But, as is not uncommon, this was of limited success. In large part, I think, due to the need to contextualise the content of these RLOs as, once stripped of their context, it became apparent that much of the content felt a bit anodyne or simply lacked the impact it should’ve had. Further, the work required to amend this material to a new context wasn’t far away from just creating your own ‘unique’ version of the subject matter.

Scottish Open Education Declaration logoThankfully this has evolved to what we know now as Open Educational Resources (OER). Arguably this hasn’t been a huge evolution, but it has led to a more organised adoption route. So, in Scotland we have the Open Education Declaration:

Building on UNESCO’s 2012 Paris OER Declaration, the Scottish Open Education Declaration calls on the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and all sectors of Scottish education to endorse the … principles. … which aims to create opportunities for organisations, teachers and learners to innovate and to ensure that educational materials produced with public funding are available to all.

You can get a sense the scope of this declaration by reading the principles it lists. As you can see, it goes much wider than OER and is something which guides the day to day work of myself and those I work with. The declaration has helped shap our digital learning strategy, including how we distribute our products, and how we enable access to our online resources and services and so on.

In seeking to make as many of our resources as possible available as OER. It became clear to us that we had to separate the product from the content. So, what does that mean? For example – we have a number of tablet apps and, whilst we most often are not able to hand over the source code for those apps to third parties, we can make the source learning materials available so that interested parties can remix and reuse our materials to create their own ‘local’ versions/products.

But, this brings me to a point raised in the conversation with Sukaina Walji and Cheryl Hodgkinson-William which formed part of this week’s material. To successfully benefit from OER we need to have the skills needed to fully reuse, remix and mashup existing open resources. The lack of such digital skills/capabilities can be a barrier to people adapting and remixing OERs to create new resources. So, how do we address this and prevent OERs from becoming the domain of the digitally skilled/adept?

There is no doubt this remains a challenge and one to which I guess there is no easy solution. We have a further challenge which absolutely must be addressed: managing the individuals’ desire to create OERs and the institution/organisation’s desire to manage its intellectual property. Again, this needs answers which are way beyond my pay grade.

But, there are some great examples of what can be achieved when there is a will and a concerted effort, Like the TESSA project.

The next evolution of OER: the “CARE” concept

Two of the key challenges of using OER and their predecessor RLOs have been (a) finding the OER in this first place and, (b) sustainability. This week introduced the concept of Content Addressable Resources for Education (CARE). In the CARE model, instead of searching for and finding resources based on their location, we can search for and locate them based on their content.

Instead of being stored on a single server, content is stored on multiple servers. And when a web user requests that content, it is served from the nearest server. The only difference is that, in the distributed web, these servers are each others’ computers. These are called ‘peers’ and the system as a whole is called a ‘peer-to-peer’ (P2P) network. … in the distributed web we use content-based addressing. In essence, we search for resources based on what it is rather than where it is.

Stephen provides a more detailed description of how this works here. It is easy to see the potential. The fact that we can not only find original versions of open learning resources, but also remixed versions based on their content could be immensely helpful – after all, it’s always easier to start by looking at what someone else has done for inspiration or hints and tips about how to remix your own version, than to start from scratch.

Another attraction of the model is the role of the distributed web concepts in its delivery (see “Introducing the dweb” by Dietrich Ayala for more information). In essence, this distributed, peer-to-peer model makes it almost impossible for open content to be corralled and locked behind a pay wall (as has happened in many cases with the MOOC concept).

The mechanics or CARE and the distributed web

As ever, the devil is in the detail. In practical terms how can you make this work? Making it work means moving away from the current Content Delivery Network (CDN) model we are so familiar and comfortable with. To be honest, we are “comfortable” because the CDN approach allows us to offload the work required to take care of the complex technical arrangements of distribution to someone else.

This week did provide us with insights into how this might work in a dWeb environment  via IPFS and the Beaker Browser. Time to own up … trying to get my head round IPFS and it’s associated technologies, did make my head hurt! It’s fair to say that for me we’re back to showing off the wiring again and as I’ve already admitted, this is not how I want to engage. I’ll leave this stuff to those more tech savvy than me.

However, Beaker Browser was intriguing – it’s the first example I’ve seen of an application which allows you to both create and consume HTML content etc. from inside a browser. I enjoyed playing with it, but wasn’t confident enough in it to use it in anger. A bit like seeing the attraction of the Raspberry PI, but preferring an iPad.

For me, there’s a layer missing. In order to be a tool that can attract critical mass of learning resource developers, I believe it needs a WYSIWYG interface. I know, I can hear the coders sneering! And, this links back to the conversation with Sukaina Walji and Cheryl Hodgkinson-William: technology provision/availability on its own is not enough, its only the enabler. We also need to address UX and skills support/development to help people to exploit the benefits of the technology if we hope to achieve the level of change the CARE and dWeb model suggest.

Are we ready to put all of this together?

So, the big question is, “are we ready to take advantage of this new approach?” For me, it still too early to jump aboard. The tools and basic infrastructure are still too immature. As I said earlier, I can see the promise of Beaker Browser, but it lacks the user-friendly UI it needs to move it from the province of the coders and into the realms of ordinary users.

Something also needs to be in place to act as a bridge when individual peer sources are offline. We know through experience that ordinary users are, on the whole, unwilling to tolerate systems which appear to be flaky. With technical knowledge of how this all works, we can see that the source serving up the content we want may be offline, but to the average user, it might just appear to be ‘broken’.

However, the big issue regarding the effective use of open resources for learning, whether the current OER or the new CARE model, is building the digital skills of our target audience to enable them to exploit these resources. Until that is addressed, I fear that nothing much will change.

In closing, I’d like to return to the issue of context. Without context, I’d argue that content is of limited value. A few years ago, Stephen spoke at an event I organised and when we were preparing for the event he made the point that, content is everywhere. Whatever you want, you can probably find somewhere online – even if you need to breach the paywall! It’s sense-making that’s the premium resource.

This has stuck with me since that conversation and it seems to me that “sense-making” is the foundation stone of a new, much richer role for learning and development professionals (whatever sector they are working in) and it will remain at a premium regardless of what form of openness you work with in developing resources for learning, and the regardless of the systems you use to access/deliver them.

Who am I? – Digital identity and Web 3.0

With a topic like identity, it’s very tempting to wax philosophical, but hopefully, I’ll be able to, if not avoid that, at least rein it in a bit and focus on the subject of the creation, maintenance and curation of digital identity. I also intend to link this to the issue of what all this might mean in for learning.

What is ‘identity’?

The primer material on eLearning 3.0 this week signposted participants to a couple of useful articles exploring perspectives on what constitutes ‘Identity’ – “What is Identity? A Sociological Perspective” by Mary Jane Kehily and “What is Identity” (Open University, Open Learn). The latter provided a fairly good summary of the issue:

“If identity provides us with the means of answering the question ‘who am I?’ it might appear to be about personality; the sort of person I am. That is only part of the story. Identity is different from personality in important respects. … an identity suggests some active engagement on our part. We choose to identify with a particular identity or group. … [the] importance of structures, the forces beyond our control which shape our identities, and agency, the degree of control which we ourselves can exert over who we are.  (source)

Image depicting context as it relates to identity

In my opinion, ‘identity’ is a fairly fluid concept. Our ‘identity’ evolves and changes over time. It can provide snapshots of who we’ve been, who we are today, and who we might become in future. But, I also think it’s context or role specific: who we are depends on our context – at home, at work, as a parent, in different social groups etc. It reflects our beliefs and affiliations (at a given time), our hobbies and interests etc and, finally, there is an ‘identity’ which is ascribed to us, defined by others’ perceptions of us and which we have little direct control over.

“identity can be seen as the meeting place between the subjective processes inscribed in the way we live our lives and the discourses that position us” (source)

I’d encourage you to read the articles detailed above and draw your own conclusions about what ‘identity’ means to you – after all, what we are (to us) is a very subjective thing.

Digital Identity

The main task for participants on eL3.0 this week was to graph their digital identity. So, building on the thoughts above, here is my example graph (click to enlarge):
Image depicting an example of a digital identityAs you can see, my graph attempts to show the contextual nature of identity as described previously (although it is not an exhaustive/complete picture – just the edited highlights) and there are aspects to online life which either fall in to the professional context, or the personal/social context. As a reflection of conscious decision, there is almost no cross over between these two domains, the exception being education/knowledge/skills as shown by the green icon in the graph. This links to my professional life and has informed my role as a parent.

Within the professional context, I think there is scope to break things down further as I believe there are aspects of professional digital identity which relate employment in a specific organisation, and aspects which relate to profession and personal professional development. The graph attempts to depict that distinction. As you’d expect, there aren’t always clear boundaries around each of these aspects of the professional context.

The connections drawn on the graph are an attempt to depict the conversations and discourses described in the Open Learn piece on identity but again, this graph shows only part of the picture as detailing all of the connections would make the graph almost unreadable.

In such a complex network, the question arises of how to manage all of this? The articles from Robert Heaton (“Identity Graphs: how online trackers follow you across devices” and “How does online tracking actually work?“) provide some useful and sobering insights into how 3rd parties create and manage digital identities from our online activities and connections, and how to circumvent some of this (editor’s note: the post is being written on a computer whose internet connection is routed via a VPN and in a browser which prevents tracking and device fingerprinting). But, how do we manage our identities?

There are some suggestions in the Heaton articles and referenced in the previous paragraph. In addition, the following video from Stephen  illustrates emerging tools to help us manage our digital identities.

But it’s also about basic online behaviours, being aware/alert and making use of the tools already available. As part of my day job, we created a resource to help non-tech minded staff develop digital capabilities and we include material on digital footprint and digital security (see The advice contained there is based on the web we have now – web 2.0. We can only hope that the tools referenced in the video above (and projects like SOLID) help us proactively manage the next iteration of the Web – Web 3.0.

Digital Identity and Learning

So, how does all of this relate to digital learning? There is the potential for technologies like Keybase and Yubikeys to provide a robust learner owned and controlled means of verifying identity for accreditation purposes. So, mediated by technologies like those, our digital identity can become the keystone for us to manage our records of learning in future – our transcripts, certifications and qualifications.

But, as has become something of a recurring theme in these posts, it all comes down to the accessibility of the technology. The tools need to be accessible to those of us who are not ‘tech’ minded. A ‘Digital Identity for Dummies’ approach would be great!

If the tools don’t move out of the techie niche, I’m afraid they’ll never reach the potential for mass adoption. The majority of the success stories in the digital world have the common theme of providing user experience which makes engaging with the product/service etc. as straightforward as possible and we need to learn from those examples.

When is a graph not a ‘graph’?

I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing the word ‘graph’ and thinking about high school maths or statistics. But, in the context of this week’s topic on the eLearning 3.0 MOOC, the meaning is totally different. In this context, when we refer to graph, we really mean ‘network’. Or at least, that’s my interpretation.

I admit, I find it confusing to refer to a network as a graph, but these quotes from Stephen’s article helped me make sense of it:

“In connectivism we have explored the idea of thinking of knowledge as a graph, and of learning as the growth and manipulation of a graph. A core proposition is that this state of affairs contained in the graph or network constitutes knowledge, and that learning is therefore the creation, development and traversal of the network that constitutes that knowledge. Yet the question can still be asked, what makes it knowledge?”

“A graph – and hence, knowledge – is not merely a representational system, but is rather a perceptual system, where the graph is not merely the repository, but a growing and dynamic entity shaped by – and shaping – the environment around itself.”

I won’t go back over the detailed information on graphs and graph theory – it’s all on the elearning 3.0 website – but rather, I’ll present my take on the activity set for this week which was,

  1. Create a model graph of some aspect of the E-Learning 3.0 course.
  2. In your model, consider how the states of the entities in that graph might vary.
  3. In your model, consider how knowledge about the changes in states in the graph might be used.

I decided to create a graph to map put the potential influences the content of eLearning 3.0 MOOC could have on my work as a manager of a small team whose role is digital learning design. So, here’s the graph:


  1. In short, my interaction (learning) with eL3.0 should be a 2-way street – I acquire new knowledge and my assimilation and interpretation of of this new knowledge, fed back into the eL3.0 ‘community’ may add to that emerging body of knowledge.
  2. I also cascade what I’m learning to the people in my team. We have a strong culture of sharing and discussing what we each learn and look for ways to apply that learning to our projects.
  3. This is turn will see this learning manifest itself in new learning resources and potentially as updates to our learning services (eg our Open Badge platform).
  4. The remainder of the graph shows the impact of that learning in the sector we serve. So the nodes (or vertices) are learners, employers (circa 3,000 in our sector + employers in neighbouring sectors), further and higher education, strategic partners (eg other NDPBs or NGOs for folks outside the UK) and, policy makers. So the links (or ‘edges’)  and mostly bi-directional to demonstrate the dialogue between my team and I and our stakeholders as we seek to influence uptake, change and/or improvement in digital learning in our sector and neighbouring sectors.
  5. Thus, hopefully the learning from eL3.0 may have the scope to travel far beyond my immediate contacts and find expression in the work of others.

This was quite an interesting activity complete as displaying the connectivity and spread of ideas and learning from one learning experiences was valuable in making me think about the connections my team and I have and the potential for these connections to effect change in a large complex system.

Of course the real trick is in how you package that change and inspire others to grasp it.

eLearning 3.0 and Web 3.0

Of course, the context of this MOOC is in the developing Web 3.0.

“Web3 ultimately represents a dissatisfaction with that solution [the use of platforms], a (well-founded) distrust of platforms, and a desire for individual autonomy and accountability. The solution proposed by Web3 (or various versions of Web3) incorporates elements of identity, immutability and community.”

This week’s speaker, Ben Werdmuller had an interesting take on Web 3.0. In short, his view was that everyone should be able to ‘own’ their own website even down to owning the server which hosts that site (perhaps the ultimate smart home device?). The challenge, from my point of view, is how do we move people from starting out on blogging on commercially owned services (like WordPress), to creating their own website? Not only does the hardware component to this need to be as simple to set up as a modern TV, so do the tools to create and update your personal website.

Having said that Ben did emphasise usability/UX and the need to reach and engage the majority who have very limited skills in using technology and, given his track record in proviso projects like ELGG, we can only hope he is in a position to support the creation of tools to make his vision a reality.

I suppose the danger in packaging up his ideas into products which people with limited technical skills leads us back down the path which lead to the platforms we are dealing with today. So, I’m finishing with a question – How do we achieve this vision without losing the ethical position which Ben describes as informing it?

Considering the Cloud

So, I know this is late, but hey, the day job sometimes takes over, so now I’m playing catch up. So here goes – impressions and take aways from “Cloud Week” …


I’ll admit, I find the whole Jupyter Notebook/Docker/Docker hub area a bit sterile for me. I provokes the same reaction in me as being shown my car engine by a mechanic and being given an explanation of what’s going on when it’s running – a profound sense of disinterest. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the potential of this and the utility of these technologies if you are either teaching programmers/computer science, or are building applications etc. But, for someone not involved in those areas it feels like the ‘wiring’ has been exposed to the end user and she/he is being expected to understand and value it.

For me, the real power in the application of cloud technologies and services is that they can hide the wiring and create a learning ecosystem for the hardware and software you use to deliver or support your learning and/or the learning of others. In other words you can create complex arrangements where devices are interoperable, sharing information across multiple devices and make the whole experience seamless for the end user. For example, I started writing this post on my iPad over my breakfast coffee this morning (yeah, I know – deeply sad!) and I’m now finishing it on my laptop.

As a Mac OS and iOS user, the system integration Apple has been able to create using Cloud computing as the ‘glue’ to connect it’s various platforms and software offerings, is probably the slickest example I’ve seen of the potential of cloud services in everyday life.

For me it’s this potential to create engaging learning experiences which exploit the power of cloud computing, whilst hiding the complexity of the inner workings of how it’s being done, which is compelling. The majority of the leaners I serve, simply don’t want to see the wiring – and most of the time, neither do I.