A glimpse of the future?

In recent weeks I’ve been working on a project that has involved much speculation about what the future Virtual Learning Environment might be – as we move from a system that is designed purely to transmit information, to systems that are customised to individuals, and grow organically according to individual patterns of behavour etc.
in this work I’ve looked at the developing role of blogs and wikis, the emergence of metadata and folksonomies , and paying particular attention to the recent writings of Scott Wilson from CETIS who has provided a fascinating visual version of a future VLE on his blog, which is written about in full on The JISC website . Another useful article appeared recently from George Seimens titled Learning Management Systems: The wrong place to start learning
Even my colleague from Ultralab, Stephen Powell, has begun to publish his thoughts on the subject with his entry on Why is the right software so important?
All of these discussions pick up on the trend towards a far more ‘organic’ structure to the web and its use, with technologies allowing the systems we use to be far more responsive to use – thus our interface and what is presented to us on it may be changing regularly to match our changing needs or useage patterns – or even according to the use patterns of those in our social network!

If all of this sounds challenging to you, take a look at this presentation that I came across tonight, set in 2014, the New York Times has gone offline, and what is EPIC?? Amid the news last week that Google has overtaken eBay on stock market value, this Flash presentation takes a speculative glance at what the future might hold. It reflects on the rise and rise of online media, and the questions that are raised at the end of the 8-minute presentation are challenges that we’d be wise to reflect on as we pursue the utopia of a ‘personalised/customised universe’.

2 thoughts on “A glimpse of the future?

  1. Hi Derek, I’m glad you are looking at some of this stuff too. Over at Ultraversity, a few of the students are actually using these tools already, building towards assessed modules using Blogs, Flickr, Wikis, folksonomy tags, 43Things and tracking each other for peer review with amalgamated RSS feeds.

    Whan I showed Scott Wilson’s diagram to Stephen Powell his reaction was to wonder how he could weld the technologies together and build a ‘sensible’ user interface. I much prefer the idea of individually customised systems (systems customised BY the individual) which grow organically.

    At the end of the day you can hold all these conferences where people talk the talk but when they get back to their desks are they going to walk the walk?

    Googlezon thing was thought provoking too, but I am optimistic that the network itself, (not the corporate superstructure) is probably going to end up powerful enough to break free of any attempts to restrain it.

  2. Thanks Andy – I’m with you on the idea of a user-determined interface that grows organically. While this could yet be some way off in a ‘system-wide’ sense, there are certainly plenty of examples around to suggest that it’s do-able. I’ve been watching the Australian education portal – EdNA (http://www.edna.edu.au/) in this regard. This site has a utilitarian structure, designed to provide guided access for the first-time user – but from the time you register you have an opportunity to modify the interface to create your own “MyEdNA” interface. Admittedly at present all you can do is play around with the number of columns and the information from the actual EdNA content areas – but it’s easy to imagine how you could then add RSS feeds from a variety of places as you can now with a Blog site etc. Small steps like this will get us there as quickly as the ‘big bang’ ones I feel.

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