The question is, how do I see Web 2.0 tools and increased access to knowledge through open educational resources affecting the DL learning environment? To answer this, a scene from an earlier season of Mad Men springs to mind. To address the apparent need for a TV advertising department for their agency, Sterling Cooper hires Harry Cramer. That’s right, one solitary guy to take care of all TV advertising in 1963. In a hilarious scene, we meet Harry, holed up in his office surrounded by about 7 flickering TVs. He is frantically trying to track what is transpiring in front of him, and he can barely eat his lunch, or write copy, let alone blink. To me, teachers feel like Harry Cramer, suddenly snowed under with the enormity of the development underway in our culture and forced to sit at our desks, trying to stay afloat somehow.
It seems to me that with the onslaught of Web 2.0 resources, DL environments are, and will continue to be, driven by user-generated content (and not solely structured and fed by teachers). This means a transformation of the role of the teacher. As Ismael Pena-Lopez writes in his essay “Personal Learning Environments and the revolution of Vygotsgy’s Zone of Proximal Development”, “ it is likely that we see a decreasing need of instructors as more knowledgeable others in order to learn something, but an increasing need of instructors as more knowledgeable others in order to learn how to learn something.” (2012) It means, as Pena-Lopez asserts, that teachers will need to focus on teaching students how to learn, not what to learn. A student’s metacognitive, critical skills must come to the fore in future DL learning environments.
I am very encouraged by the amount of open educational resources available, and hope very much that over time, these are not limited or encroached upon by the marketplace. However, after recent experiences at my own school, I have doubts that the market won’t find a way to corner open -sourced information and encroach on this new turf. Exactly what is free? When we use Google sites, what do we trade in terms of our information, our privacy and our online integrity in exchange for Google’s services? The best examples of these privacy questions can be found on Facebook these days. The other shoe dropped for me this past week, as ads I have not “liked” have turned up within my personal newsfeed.
Pena-Lopez, Ismael. “Personal Learning Environments and the revolution of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development” 31 August 2012. ttp://ictlogy.net/20120831-personal-learning-environments-and-the-revolution-of-vygotskys-zone-of-proximal-development/ accessed 1 October 2012