I Am The So-Called Professor

Jim Groom pushes the envelope all the time, which is why we love him!  The person who coined the phrase “edupunk” is back as Rorschach from the Watchmen with a warning for “so-called professors” – you cannot, as Jon Mott suggested at ELI, have corporate learning management systems like Blackboard and edupunk style learning co-exist.  To be free, you must let go of walled garden systems and embrace open education.

Check out Rorschach’s EdTech Journal below:

We need people like Jim to push us out of our comfort zone, but I am not sure we need to totally abandon the LMS as Jim suggests.  If I had to guess which specific presentation upset Rorschach, it would have to be Jon Mott’s presentation on The Genius of AND: Reconciling the Enterprise and the Personal Learning Network.

Jon’s presentation really resonated with me – I am a believer in “and”.  This concept of “and” has come up several times in recent weeks.

Enterprise LMS’s like Blackboard do some things very well, such as administer rosters and handle grades in ways that satisfy FERPA regulations.  You can easily enhance Blackboard by adding aggregated blogs through Netvibes or collaborative spaces for tasks like wikis.  It is not a case as Jim suggests of “open” or “closed”, but rather “open” AND “closed” as the situation fits.

In working with a program looking at online instruction, it seemed that the discussion was leaning to one of “asynchronous” or “synchronous”.  This is another area where AND fits well.  The decision to use synchronous or asynchronous should be based on the learning objectives and the audience, not based on an EITHER/OR model.

In a bit of synchronicity, my office mate Bud Deihl had a blog post that mirrored some of what Rorschach bemoaned.  In “Technology in the Classroom is a Given“, Bud noted that we should not be debating whether or not to integrate technology into the classroom.  Our students are already carrying sophisticated technology in the form of smartphones, netbooks, and laptops into our classes.  As Bud challenges us, we should be looking for AND situations to go ahead and incorporate these technologies into our learning environments.

Jim A.K.A. Rorschach – Keep pushing us to be pure.  We need these mirrors held up to us.  But I will continue to be the so-called professor looking for that middle ground where I can use both traditional and networked learning.


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6 thoughts on “I Am The So-Called Professor

  1. Britt,

    I just can;t help but think such a middle-of-the-road approach belies the logic behind the LMS: control. Do we really need an LS for a gradebook? Or an email tool, banner does that for us? There’s the majority of your usage as suggested by Jon Mott’s own stats. And the simple fact is all the money spent on the enterprise purpose of Bb and their ilk are resources diverted from investing people to imagine and work with faculty and students. The LMS has enabled us to routinize edtech to the point where it becomes almost like a factory, or to use an image from gardner Campbell, a feed line for cattle. What is we redirected that money into people thinking about a professional/teaching/learning network online that they can from, cultivate, and manage. An extremely useful, and some would argue urgent, tool for educators and students alike that the LMS continues to preclude through a false sense of elearning. It’s inauthentic in this moment, and I think the more we try and marry peanut butter and chocolate, the worse our online incontinence will become. The LMS is one of the major obstacles in encouraging and pushing faculty and students alike to experiment, it’s eating our resources and has come to represent a “necessary evil”—even though we all know a grade book, email, and quiz feature are the three elements convincing us to remain behind an institutional firewall.

    And while I agree not everything has to be open or closed, I still think it should be our choice to decide which. We don;t have that choice in most LMSs, and quite frankly, if we continue to wait on their rate of innovation, we’ll be sunk. Web 2.0 is over 5 years old, the tools have suggested real possibility and promise for networked learning and online cooperation, why would we still be using LMSs? I just don;t get it, the reasons to stay have never convinced me, and I can;t help but thinking preaching the middle ground right now just promises more of the same for the next five years.

  2. Finally joined Twitter and your name popped up when I did an ‘ed/tech’ search, and since I love Richmond….I thought I’d personally introduce myself–a bus/tech teacher in a rural high school in PA. I love tech stuff and am grasping bits at a time. Already use wikis; edmodo; live share; linkdin and now Twitter. Looking forward to reading your tweets.

  3. I think I’ve officially arrived. The Rev, er Rorschach, has called me out with one of his trademark vids. I’m honestly quite flattered.

    But I do have to say that (a) I intentionally overstated the the possibility of Jim Groom-Michael Chasen harmony for shock value and (b) my argument should not be taken as a defense of the LMS. If you listen to my entire presentation (skipping past the tongue-in-cheek stuff about peanut butter and chocolate, starting with about slide 71), I think it’s quite clear that I am, in fact, advocating a dramatic reordering of things.

    The AND that I’m referring to is the blending of the secure, university network for private, proprietary data (e.g., student records) and the open, read-write Web. I have said (on many occasions) that the days of the LMS paradigm are numbered. I’m certainly not trying to extend them by suggesting that we balance both open and closed learning networks.

  4. Of course you agree with Jon–both of you guys wear ties!

    Seriously, though, you bring up some good points, while Jim’s argument remains compelling at a level that’s almost frightening. Thus I am still sitting on the fence on this issue. I know I want to see some schools model the LMS-free approach (or maybe allowing this privilege to traditional schools is too much within the scope of control to escape infection from the normalizing, minimizing, identity-reducing, counter-exploratory goals of being free to use and own your own stuff) before I say we have to choose either or. The one sobering fact I deal with day-to-day is this army of faculty who won’t/can’t use or encourage use of open tools, but might use institutionally controlled tools that are in fact aimed at the lowest common denominator. The counter argument that chokes me is that I shouldn’t be worried about the faculty; I should be worried about the students.

    Lots of sorting still to do in my mind…

  5. I wish to echo and emphasize one of Jim’s points – the choice of open and closed should rest with the educator (FERPA permitting – and it permits quite a lot), not be always already determined by centralized fiat. I use moodle when it seems like the right tool, but I use a free wiki instead where I need openness, because moodle is as walled a garden as Blackboard, albeit a more flexible and friendly one.

  6. Some great comments here! I do have one disclaimer to Jared…I try never to wear a tie these days! I am definitely with Jon and Ed on using the LMS for managment but using open systems for teaching and learning. I do that in my online classes. But unfortunately, I also agree with Jared that the vast, vast majority of faculty are resistant to open education. All the more need for the Rorschach’s to shake us all up!

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