I have been, for obscure reasons, reviewing a seven year old learning technology strategy document. This is not an artefact of an organisation I have any relationship with, by the way. It is a fascinating and instructive read.
A contemporary reader would, I suspect, have seen this as a progressive and challenging document. It speaks of sustainability, security, ease of access and user expectations. Not many of these guidelines would make the editorial cut of today’s institutions. I can sense the tensions of managed ICT and user needs at play in the drafting.
One section makes reference to Web 2.0 technologies as an indicator of where development should head. Tools like blogs and Wikis are itemised, these are still underused in learning, I reckon. One branded service is mentioned in emphasis of the emerging social world of students, “research indicates that 85%of US students have a MySpace entry”. I’m not really sure what entry means but I guess it’s a site. In the relatively short time since this document was signed off MySpace has come, set the world alight and disappeared. Many bets were placed (were they not Mr Murdoch) at the time as hysterics and realists sniffed the future. The service has passed on now but the writers’ insight endures.
The expectation to create, share, comment and favourite all kinds of content has only grown. It would be a brave soul who sees Facebooks’ demise form here but the social behaviour is now an intuiutve digital pattern. New products and features will emerge and pass and we will, at times, run after them rather foolishly, dropping our better judgement as we break stride. The impulse is right though. We need to be be alive to testing and trying many modes and tools to help our learners learn most effectively in the ways they feel most comfortable with. MySpace may be totally wrong now but these are their rules and new plays will be valid.
As a colleague from New York once told me about business deals, “Sometimes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs”. I think we need to acquire a taste for frogs over the long term.