Timeless education



[This is part of a draft of the chapter I’m writing for the International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments, forthcoming from Springer. It follows:

Part 1: Collaborative Web Publishing as a Technology and a Practice
Part 2: Weblogs as “Replacement” Educational Technology
Part 3: The Open Classroom
Part 4: Trips Without the Field
Part 5: New apprenticeship]

The weblog extends education beyond the school in time as well as in space. Already, many have begun to talk of a record that is self-managed, and records important (and unimportant) segments of one’s life over decades. One effort toward this end is the Minnesota eFolio project, “a multimedia electronic portfolio designed to help you create a living showcase of your education, career and personal achievements.” E-portfolios are available to all Minnesotans, student or not. This raises interesting questions, from a technical perspective, but also provides an exciting connection between education, career, and community. With a similar goal in mind, the University at Buffalo’s School of Informatics, when creating a weblog system for their graduate program, decided that students should be allowed to keep their weblogs indefinitely. The hope was that this would establish an electronic network that connected alumni to current students, to the benefit of both groups. Already, some graduates have taken on a mentoring role, helping new students to follow in their footsteps.

As with the removal of the classroom walls, the record without end comes with a potential price. There is the potential for ideas recorded as a student to then return to haunt the graduate. Recently, a former graduate student in the informatics program requested that his blog be removed in its entirety. As a student, he had written about what he saw as deceptive practices of a particular marketing firm. He had recently been hired by a company that counted the marketing firm among its clients, and they asked that he remove the site. There is sometimes a virtue in forgetting. While a weblog makes plain growth and learning, it often presents a balanced picture of the individual. Later, when a more favorable image is desired, mistakes — especially those taken out of context — can be ripped from the past and brought to the present.

This difficulty can be mitigated entirely by pseudonymous publishing, as noted above. And students should always have the ability to edit and remove their own work. However, the best way to avoid the problems of a public record is to place student bloggers in the shoes not only of their audience, but of their future audience. Would you publish something that you did not want to see a decade or a century in the future? Naturally, we cannot always predict what our future selves will be proud or ashamed of, but by blogging for an audience that may include their future selves, the author once again places his or her learning within a very broad context.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted 4/11/2004 at 3:28 am | Permalink
  2. Posted 4/11/2004 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Yep, A couple more, I think. Sorry, not trying to be a tease; doing this in serialized form because:

    (a) It’s otherwise macro-content. I know from experience that publishing a whole paper makes it unlikely that it will be read. This way, those reading in RSS still get way-too-big chunks, but there is more likelihood that they will read/skim it. I think the next section is the biggest of all.

    (b) I’m super-busy lately, and there is actually a time issue in webifying some of this. If I’d been smart, I’d have installed the Textism update first so that I could use the footnote feature!

    Alex

    (Oh, and thanks to linking to it. If you hadn’t, I don’t know that anyone would have noticed :)

  3. Posted 4/11/2004 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    And I’ll comment in your topic when I post them.

    A.

  4. Posted 4/12/2004 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Alex,
    I guess I’m a bad academic, I prefer spreading good ideas rather then inventing my own wheels :)))
    Lilia

8 Trackbacks

  1. By Mario tout de go... on 4/10/2004 at 4:19 pm

    De la “dynamite” !
    Clément rapporte le travail extraordinaire de Alex Alevais qui écrit (étape par étape) sur son cybercarnet un chapitre pour un ouvrage à paraître dans le contexte du “International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments”. J’en retiens un extrait par…

  2. By Mathemagenic on 4/11/2004 at 3:26 am

    Chapter on weblogs and learning by Alex Halavais
    In case you haven’t seen it yet: Alex Halavais

  3. By Seb's Open Research on 4/13/2004 at 9:37 am

    Halavais series on weblogs and education
    Alex Halavais has been pushing out a series of texts that make up a chapter in the forthcoming International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments .

  4. By Mario tout de go... on 4/16/2004 at 11:25 am

    De la “dynamite” !
    Clément rapporte le travail extraordinaire de Alex Halevais qui écrit (étape par étape) sur son cybercarnet un chapitre pour un ouvrage à paraître dans le contexte du “International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments”. J’en retiens un extrait pa…

  5. By unmediated on 4/16/2004 at 12:33 pm

    Halavais series on weblogs and education
    Alex Halavais has been pushing out a series of texts that make up a chapter in the forthcoming International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments. I’m definitely going to read all of it. * Part 1: Collaborative Web Publishing as a Technology and a…

  6. By teachnology on 4/17/2004 at 7:11 pm

    Chapter on weblogs and learning by Alex Halavais
    From “kairosnews”: Via Albert at Educational Weblogs comes a notice that Alex has posted drafts of the chapter he’s writing for the International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments : Part 1: Collaborative Web Publishing as a Technology and a Practi

  7. By Remolino on 4/18/2004 at 8:26 pm

    Alex Alavais: incontournable!
    Alex Alavais a complété la rédaction des huit parties de son texte. Les quatre premiers m’avait fait écrire ceci… les quatre derniers sont à la hauteur! Un texte brillant! Et finir avec un wrap-up faisant référence à l’oeuvre de Freire… vraiment fa…

  8. By incorporated subversion on 4/18/2004 at 10:56 pm

    Weblogs, Learning
    Definitely…

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