Designing open infrastructures for professional development

Last week I attended a seminar by the Supporting Sustainable e-Learning Forum at Glasgow Caledonia University with Peter Sloep from the Open University of the Netherlands.

The seminar and presentation used six “use cases” as the staring points for discussions on the efficacy of networked learning as viable solutions in terms of non-formal professional learning as well as collaborative sense-making and knowledge sharing.
The main discussions were, as might be expected,gravitated towards the debate of open v closed systems – although I find the debate at a broad level somewhat unhelpful as argued here. However, working through the issues to be considered for ePortfolios that can transfer from formal into non-formal professional learning as a useful tool for the individual while also providing suitable evidence for assessment provided a useful illustration of the difficulties of the practicalities of the “edgeless university” – for my take, see here. Other practical issues with the distributed network model that were discussed centred on institutional issues of IP and barriers derived from the imperatives of managerial control as well as technical barriers surrounding interoperability & standards etc.
A key issue underpinning many advantages of either the open/ distributed model and the closed model was one of trust and sources of ‘trustworthy’ knowledge.
An interesting day. While the seminar was about non-formal learning, the cross-over to capturing, understanding and enhancing informal (incidental?) learning were many.

The Supporting Sustainable e-Learning Forum has three more events planned for the rest of the year and more detail can be found at their Ning site here.

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