Problems with open learning

I appreciate David Wiley and Jon Mott’s comments on open learning networks (OLN). They attempt to take what is not working with formal education, and create a model to design structures that enhance learning – with a Web2.0 flavour. I have to agree that CMS structures are limited. Designing course curriculum for these platforms limits selection of communication and information tools. For the most part, I use the discussion board feature, but tend to use external tools 90% of the time such as wikis, blogs, slideshare etc.

However, my biggest concern with using external tools that host work is copyright and privacy issues. What information do students have to give to create a ‘free’ account, and what happens to their work? In the last 2 months I have reviewed many freeware sites, and most state they will use information and posted work within their sites to promote their product. Does this mean we need to hide behind secured virtual walls in order to protect our students from potential harm in open spaces?

As well, using the plethora of resources and information online is like going shopping. The variety and quality is impressive. However, what about infringing on the copyrights of authors/producers? To avoid this, and to alleviate lengthy wait times to gain rights to use the content, I tend to link to the information. However, this will become problematic as information moves and links become broken. As well, on some of these sites students are exposed to flaky advertising and inappropriate information or comments.

In a perfect virtual world, information would be at our finger tips, online environments would be manageable, significant networks would be developed, meaningful boundaries would appear, and our identity and work would be safely handled. I appreciate those that continue to examine ways to create good learning environments, and the software developers would attempt to build them.

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