I am very interested in the question about integrating social software tools (eg. Blogs and Wikis) to current LMS’s (eg. WebCT or Moodle). At the moment, the integration of those tools is quite limited. For example, teachers are able to add Wiki tool to a LMS course (eg. PmWiki with WebCT) which is hopefully useful as improving the student collaboration, one of the WebCT’s blind spots.
But I see the limitations a bit annoying. For example, students are not able to publish their work to Web themselves, if they want so. And I suppose the Wiki in Moodle works quite similarily? On the other hand, you can link public blogs or Wikis to LMS course but is that really enough?
Now someone could ask me what’s the point of integrating these tools that represent whole different idea (or generation) of Web Technology? Should we just forget the current LMS’s as an “old tech” and start using social software in it’s “pure form”, in totally public web? Should we forget the LMS’s and VLE’s and introduce the brand new PLE’s (P stands for Personal).
At least the vendors of commercial LMS’s disagree, “Blogis and Wikis are useful tools (only) when used within a LMS”, could someone say.
I think we should search the solution between these two extremes. There should exist somekind of continuum between “totally public” and “delimited to a single course in LMS”. A continuum that would serve the diverse users needs. And I refer the term “user” to faculty and students, not to educational technologists. The users need to decide themselves their products level of publicity. Whether the product is a blog entry linked to a course or an article written to a Wiki by a group of students. By level of publicity, I mean somekind of general categories friends/group/course/university/universum.
Technology should be flexible. Tools should be suitable for multiple purposes, without forcing us to invent a new name to it:
A blog used within a LMS is still “a blog”, nevertheless it doesn’t have all the original features. “Your screwdriver is still a screwdriver, despite the fact I used it to open a bottle of beer.”
But to be honest, there is quite a lot of fruitful discussion going on after the news about Elgg and WebCT integration. And if I got it right, Sasan Salari will have
a presentation about that in Edinburgh next week.