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John Connell

There might be a danger, Martin, in too crudely equating Web 1.0 (and the VLE by association) with the desire to be controlling, and Web 2.0 with the letting go of control. I think you avoid that danger, but others might not.

I know you are absolutely right that control is precisely the objective of many organisations in setting up a VLE, but a web-based VLE as part of a broader eco-system of technologies (including Web 2.0 tools, of course) can be implemented in a way that devolves decisions on how the tools can be used to the user. Subsidiarity in educational technologies need not be entirely dependent on the wholesale deployment of Web 2.0 technologies.

Some of this will depend, for instance, on policies around the provision of, or access to, content. Any attempt to use a VLE to restrict access to 'approved' tranches of content only will undoubtedly hugely debase the educational potential of the VLE.

As you say, the complexity of control .v. freedom is a difficult balance to achieve. As someone of libertarian bent, I always prefer the benefit of the doubt to shift towards the latter rather than the former - but much of it comes down to attitudes within the organisation rather than the nature of the tools that the organisation provides (or approves the use of).


Hi John
yes, you're right - I think what this shows is that web 2.0 is only about technology 50% of the time. It's often about attitude - so one could have a very 2.0 course in approach inside a conventional VLE.
Many of the reasons institutions deploy a centralised VLE ultimately boil down to control - and often control in a 'good' way, for example ensuring students have access to a reasonable range of tools, or helping unsure educators use the tools by having a limited set with support, making sure students feel safe in a controlled environment where they are free to make mistakes, etc. As the Kathy Sierra episode illustrated the blogosphere (and by extension the raw 2.0 world) are not always nice places.
So I understand the urge to control the environment as much as possible - I just think that whether we like it or not, external forces will make control increasingly difficult and unmanageable so we need to be finding ways of addressing this now.

John Connell

I agree, Martin - just as School 1.0 (or University 1.0?) is becoming increasingly difficult to manage (or, more bluntly, increasingly irrelevant) so the attitudes that see a VLE as an instrument of control will be increasingly marginalised. I hope.

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