Last week, the conference “ITI 2004: Reusable Media, Social Software and Openness in Education” took place in Utah. While elsewhere, the focus is either just on the social component or on technical details of Content Reusability and Repository, they were reasonably combined here. OLS (Open Learning Support) (D. Wiley, Abstract by S. Downes):
“OLS is social software that integrates with existing collections, designed to facilitate effective learning and support interactions without the presence of an a priori authoritative voice. In this case, teacher bandwidth is actually zero. Instead of replacing the teacher with an automated system, can we replace the teacher with several thousand actual people.”
A group, around the learning material, with zero teacher, that is IMO an interesting radical position right in the middle of the two other extremes: student on his own with a robot and materials, or group without good materials. From here, one might perhaps most easily find the optimal blend of teacher, group, and materials which is probably varying with the learning topic.
“Would you personally want to learn the capitals of the 50 states through a process of discussion and negotiation in small groups of five to seven peers? Probably not” … “Can you imagine using only flashcard-style drill and practice methods to help students learn to evaluate the ethics of the current US war in Iraq?”