“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Tearing down the walled garden?

Phil Hill, over at the e-Literate blog, writes about Canvas' latest announcement, the "Canvas App Center" in terms that this move will significantly shape the way institutions organise their learning (platforms), moving from "an enterprise LMS [Learning Management System] market to a learning platform market".

First of all, what is it that Canvas are planning? Essentially, opening up the learning platform to be enable users to find, download and use any number of third-party apps, in the same way that you might find, download and use an app on your smartphone or tablet (if you do). This means that no longer will users be dependent on the great eLearning Decision-Maker in the sky to provide the appropriate tools for their needs - each user can seek out - or perhaps write - tools that best suit their own specific needs. The apps are already available - have a look for yourself, I think they look very interesting: edu-apps.org

This has to make sense on any number of levels. The person in the best position to decide which tools to use is the person organising the learning - the teacher or facilitator. As Canvas say, this is the agile approach - and as they also say this kind of speed of adaptation and use is "a rare thing indeed for higher education."

And there's the rub. The internal logic of almost all human institutions that I have experienced is that of power and control, with a marked suspicion of any move to shift that power in any way, never mind to the multitudes, as here, where the power shifts to end-users and not to 'decision-makers'. Phil recognises these issues in his final paragraph, which is worth quoting in full:
One other factor to watch will be whether Canvas institutions can (or should) adjust to the paradigm shift of enabling faculty and student adoption of pre-integrated tools. Concerns over data security, standardization and loss of control could cause some schools to take a cautious stance towards the app center.
Watch this space.

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