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available elements, from emojis to animated GIFs, or subreddit discussions? What are people likely to do
out there on the web when they are trying to express themselves effectively? And, how can I conceptualize all that and fold it into my teaching and learning practice?
I have been trying to promote these questions to colleagues, too: What should we be reading and thinking about, and, what things might we tinker with?
The questions to keep in mind through all of this are: Are we reading things that are truly enriching our thinking and opening up conversations about our digital opportunities? Are we trying the things that are the most interesting in our experiments and pilot projects? We may not be there yet — but we should not abandon our efforts, and we should develop a sense of urgency about staying with it.
I’m on the record as saying that we had chance to think about our digital opportunities way back in the 1990s, when the early web was starting its evolution. But, what most institutions did was simply to treat the web as a utility for delivering content — as if that was the primary mission of the university. Well, that took the pressure off their having
to understand the web, but it also basically removed the opportunity at most institutions for colleagues to try to understand the web deeply. I think this did great harm.
If we really want to consider the question of the digital opportunity of the web now, we are going to have
to retrace our steps and figure out how to get more
involvement from everyone in higher learning — to get these very smart people thinking about, and tinkering with, the possibilities of the open web.
CT: How does all this circle back to our original question about self-directed learning?
Campbell: Self-directed learning is fertile ground for
a fresh examination of digital opportunities. There are several other prime areas, of course: Libraries play a huge role in the investigations I’m talking about. And the way we think about scholarly communication is an area where we can raise consciousness about digital opportunities — simply because we urgently need to find ways to accommodate the rapidly expanding scope of scholarly communications and research materials. The list of areas to explore goes on and on.
And while I don’t think we need a complete overturning of all scholarly or pedagogical practice, we do need
to identify the key interventions, and wean ourselves away from an automated, faux-personalized approach
to “content delivery.” We need to find a way past the FTE horse-trading that all too often cripples innovation in curriculum. If we explore our digital opportunities with greater determination and greater wisdom, our efforts will ultimately add up to tremendous impact, both for self-directed learning programs and, more generally, for
pedagogy, faculty development, research support — the list goes on — allowing us to take the fullest possible advantage of the unprecedented communications environment we have before us.
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | August/September 2017
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