Sunday, September 7, 2008

Online Education and the Web Mentality

(I'm still trying to figure out what is inside the Communication Closet: The door is locked.)

Just a short post this week, as it's an unformed thought: I've been wondering if instruction librarians were some of the first in libraryland to realize the social potentials of the Web.

Here's what I mean: So much of what makes getting online useful (and fun) has to do with sharing and communicating, but many applications are built with an individual user in mind rather than many connected users who are talking to each other. The web is about connecting and sharing, and not about secrecy and single-mindedness -- that's why it's called the web rather than solitary confinement.

Again, this is unformed, but this is occurring to me because one of the most obvious uses for the web -- teaching and learning in an academic setting -- is frequently made difficult by tools created by those not fully taking advantage of the web mentality. I think this explains why online course management systems and online library resources can be so clunky: it's because those who created them were not really thinking about the web way of doing things, and instead were just thinking about how to put the way things were always done online. For anyone who's still with me here, I do think this is changing -- I think libraries and pedagogy are catching up with the way people really function online, rather than reflecting the old structures. None too soon.

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