Saturday, October 18, 2008

Edupunk -- Subversive eLearning

Edupunk: What a perfect term for what we intend.
A new word, coined by Jim Groom in May of this year in his blog

Web 2.0 offers us an opportunity to view the educational landscape from the chaotic perspective. Educational technologies that incorporate and embrace the complexity and chaoticism of the web, the structural ambiguity of collective intelligence.

There is a very articulate article on mapping new technologies onto existing pedagogical theories
in the Ariadne Journal, titled New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies by GrĂ¡inne Conole, and it has some interesting insights on how the new web technologies map onto behaviorism, constructivism and situated learning, but I think it misses the point somehow.

Punk was a musical rebellion against the arisen norm. The arisen norm of even the rebellious 60's had become complacent in the sedentary seventies. Punk addressed this with anger, and a complete disrespect for the mores of the day.

Cyberpunk arose as a rebellion and a repudiation of the technologist's dream...a recognition that these wonderful technologies that had grown up and created a type of priesthood could be subverted by individuals working in garages and the back alleys of grubby neighborhoods.

Steampunk came not long after, less in anger than in celebration. Victorian technology was, perhaps, the last technology that an individual could create in his own workshop which might change the world. That is until the nineties when cyberpunk technology once again handed that power to individuals.

All these punk movements share the defining element of punk...a Do It Yourself attitude, a rejection of formalizations and an embracing of chaos to live on the edge, balanced between anarchy and structure.

Edupunk embraces this same spirit. it embraces a DIY method of learning, a collective intelligence and interactivity with a community of learners. It seeks to provide an engaging model for students to create their own curricula, their own learning path, and ultimately their own content.

This is what we are trying to encourage in elearning in our lab at DERI. We are trying to find the way to enable learners to interact with each other, to connect with experts who can pass on the 'real' information as opposed to the 'correct' information.

Ultimately this punk'd approach to learning, the notion that learners will educate themselves and develop their own content, their own paths, their own mappings and roadmaps is very threatening to more established and formalized (formulaic) learning scenarios.

Edupunk may be a misunderstood term and may not fully emerge as a valid term. But it captures the flavor of what learning is undergoing in the way of change and evolution. Web 2.0 technologies and our own semantic technologies make possible the punk process, the DIY nature, the disrespectful disregard for practice within the learning milieu.

Edupunk: it's what learning's all about ... Now.