Do It Yourself Education, Edupunk Style

Cathy Kelley posted on the blog CTLT Dialogues about a Wired Campus post on "Edupunk.” It's supposed to be punk-style rebellion for do-it-yourself and 2.0 approaches to education as opposed to things like commercial course management systems. Cathy sees it as a new approach to the not-so-new movement towards student-centered learning.

"I think that the case against the big learning management systems is somewhat over-stated; after all, these are just big containers and you can put into them whatever you like. While there are compartments for various kinds of materials, you can ignore them or use them your own way. And not everybody is cut out to be a DIY-er.

On the other hand, it is also true that learning management systems have among the worst user interfaces of any product I’ve used. They are also designed to be very teacher-driven; only the instructor can post or edit content, for example. While this is necessary for many kinds of material, there are times when it makes sense for students to
contribute material and take a more active role in the educational process. We’ll never get away from the sage-on-the-stage / lecture/ pour-knowledge-into-kids-heads model until we move away from such strongly instructor-centric course models."

I added a comment to her post saying:

It’s possible that we won’t get away from the sage-on-the-stage / lecture/ pour-knowledge-into-kids-heads model in LMS until we move away from it in the classroom. Most LMS were built by programmers based on what they saw as the teaching model (lecture & teacher-centered), so one model perpetuates the other. Moodle was built by programming teachers so it’s less teacher-centered, but a teacher can still make it traditional if he wants to operate that way.

Every day I find in my blog reader posts about new tools that put you in control. Today I read about GlobalClassroom which is as good an example as any. It's a partnership with professors, teachers and subject-matter experts from accredited U.S. universities and schools. They are developing an online learning center to provide K12 students, teachers and adult learners with access to courses. Their designers, tech staff, and educators convert successful classroom-based courses into online classes. So far, it sounds like any college's continuing education department.

What kind of credit are they offering? College credit for high school students or as professional development; Graduate credit for teachers and adult learners; Continuing Education Units (CEU's) and ACT 48 & 45 credit for Pennsylvania only and Professional Learning Units (PLU) for Georgia K12 teachers. They say the graduate courses are appropriate for all teachers and school administrators seeking graduate credits for recertification or to transfer credit to a local college or university. They can provide graduate credit through Southern New Hampshire University and Western Oregon University (both regionally accredited).

They appear to be using Moodle as their LMS and offer any of us teachers to register for a free classroom. I clicked around the site and in their MyStudio section you can watch videos about registering as a teacher or creating a classroom.

Is it edupunk? Is it a new way of learning or teaching or a new approach to marketing? Well, it's no punk "Rock 'n' Roll High School."

In the bigger-than-education world you have self-publishing using services like or or gaining power. Can't find a publisher for your book? DIY. They used to call services like this "vanity presses" but it's becoming more accepted to publish & market yourself. It's what drives blogging for many people - self-publication. It's affecting the music business whether you are a bigtime band like Radiohead or one of the garageband DIY'ers. Power to the people would have to be power to the students if education truly went punk.

If you read the Ning blog, you see evidence of the "long tail" where small and varied interests can still find their place, and where organizing your group using DIY social networks like Ning won't put Facebook out of business, but can be pretty powerful.

Our own NJEDge.Net DLAAB special interest group is setting up a Ning network and there are lots of others using Ning in education. As organizing a sophisticated group becomes "ridiculously easy,"
it will move from non-profit communities of interest to entrepreneurial opportunities. Ning has (at last count) 275,000 social networks.

Is it changing education for the better? It might. It could. But I don't see it happening yet. Too much of the education I see online is still based on the old models even in these new packages.

Back to the thought behind my comment: Will it be that the technology & tools will cause the teaching pedagogy to change? If the revolution is to come, I think it will have to come that way.

My soundtrack to Edupunk is by The Ramones


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