When does it stop being about us?

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I’ve got several half formed posts lurking on this topic and since they never seem to reach the light of day I’m going to just dash this one out now. I’m sure other smarter people than me have already thought about this and I am as ever late to the party or have it totally backwards and wrong. Such is life.

I may also come back and revise this as it feels a bit ropey still.

Thought: Why does so much of what I read assume that the next generation of digital learning environments will still be provided by educational institutions to students?

I’ve been convinced by the arguments for student owned and operated domains for some time (and I will make this part of our edtech service portfolio at work if it kills me!) and when I spotted this tweet by my lovely colleague in Paris from the EUNIS conference I couldn’t help think this was a missing component in the model that SURFnet were experimenting with. It seemed pretty obvious to me that there should be easy to operate end points of some description to allow students to integrate their stuff where they want / need to.

However, I had a little lightbulb moment when I read this tweet (from recent JISC day on exploring the NGDLE).

Students are already working elsewhere. They’ve already built their own NGDLE as-needed. Without us. Granted they’re not working in their own spaces and there’s a ton we could do in terms of helping people make smart choices about privacy, data and ethics, but the core point remains. (1)

So whilst I think that the loose, federated eco-system of tools that NDGLE reports all suggest is probably the way forward, I also think a conceptual model for the NGDLE must recognise whatever the heck students want to use, integrated / not integrated / not visible at all. We need a big blob on the diagram marked “stuff students do that we don’t know about” and we need to be okay with that. We need to say we positively promote that if we are at all sincere about supporting digital literacies.

If we provide institutional solutions like Office365 maybe we should think twice about whether we really need to integrate them? To what extent will bringing tools into more formal / integrated / tracked systems just shift activity out into other spaces anyway?

We should strip back our ambitions and scale, and consider what elements it’s really important that institutions do provide, and consider the extent to which our drive for frictionless integration in the NGDLE is really about usability or where it’s actually about surveillance.

(1) there’s a whole other post in here about developing this kind of data-savvy literacy.

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