Over the last few weeks, I have spoken with a number of vendors about their VLEs. All of them have similar, polished pitches that talks about being learner-centric, mobile-first, and innovative.
They all then went on to talk about products in more detail, and it became increasingly obvious that those claims were spurious.
Now, I am not saying I can design and build a VLE (or LMS to our transatlantic cousins). Far from it. But I do think the whole idea of the Digital Learning Environment is something that we should explore.
So, it was pleasing to hear that Jisc, the UK education and technology charity, are launching a new set of design challenges (#codesign16). One of which is asking ‘What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?‘.
The key point is this:
As new technologies have emerged and become popular, they have been bolted on to existing systems, sometimes making other functionality redundant or even unusable. At the same time we have seen behavioural changes across society, and in education we have a student and staff body that is, potentially, more digitally connected than ever before; unconstrained by space and time and able to access information and engage with others as they need.
It is easy to look at existing VLEs and point out how their functionality doesn’t meet our current or future requirements, but I hope we take the opportunity to take a closer look at our learning processes and pedagogies, and use those to build the VLE of the future.
I am strong believer that we shouldn’t allow technology to determine our practices; it is, after all, just a tool. However, this could be the opportunity to release ourselves from the shackles of prescriptive technologies and realise how technology can serve us. How can we change our cultures? How can technologies enable this?
This re-think could be the moment to turn education on its head.
You can follow the conversation on twitter
I’ll be posting more about my ideas on here and twitter.