Konfabulaari 2006 – unconference in Helsinki and e-learning in Finland

I must write about this, just because the Flosse Posse is so well represented in the Konfabulaari 2006 – an event taking place this week ath the University of Helsinki.

Konfabulaari is an unconference about the new web in Universities. Under this theme people have proposed session to the event’s wiki-site. At the moment there are following topics:

  • social-web in teaching and learning
  • web 2.0 and modern learning theories
  • social bookmarking and management of references
  • personal learning environments
  • possibilities of micro-formats
  • collaborative outlining
  • wikis in higher education
  • Ristiinvalottamo (this is so beautiful new Finnish word that I really cant translate it, the meaning is something like co-enlighten, or cross-enlighten)
  • Experiences from use of blogs in teaching and learning – will the web 2.0 replace the LMS?
  • LMeill – developing learning materials in a social network
  • Being online celebrity
  • Productive knowledge work

In the light of the themes of the conference it is maybe useful to reflect a bit back the development of e-learning in Finland. At least in the Finnish Universities the researchers, teachers and administrators have same time been very skeptical and analytical but also dynamic when thinking and taking in use ICT in education.

Some months ago I said to Stephen Downs that in Finland we never got e-learing 1.0, but rather have done e-learning 2.0 already from the early 1990’s – right after the web was introduced. Stephen was asking if nobody in Finland never used LMS or developed them, and how we were able to be e-learing 2.0 when the web 2.0 technologies, such as RSS and Ajax, were not yet there?

Of course LMS’s were and are used in Finland, too, but the best practices which also got (and get) most publicity in the Finnish discussion were (and are), most of the time, cases of integrating home pages, newsgroups, IRC, as well as free and open online learning content in a pedagogically firm way. Already in the early 1990’s the best cases were mashups of different Internet tools put together to server learning. Of course it was clumsier than with the current “Web 2.0 tools”. To get announcements of new things you needed some human effort as there were no RSS, and to write your essay online with your friend would require skills of sharing files when you can today use Ajax-based collaborative writing tools. It was more complicate and slower but still possible.

Even in the cases of using LMSs in Finland, there has never been (even implicit) believe that when you build you (standard-based) and packaged course on LMS it will then “teach” your students as such and this way you can have more students on your courses. Ridiculous! In the use of LMSs teachers have always looked for features that are supporting their pedagogical practices. For instance, at the University of Helsinki they have always used web-based computers-supported collaborative work environment, rather than any LMS. Students are subjects, not objects.

To say that meaningful learning online was made possible only when the web 2.0 tools appeared, is a bit like claiming that “traveling” was not possible before the fast trains, such as the TGV.

For me the revolutionary technology is the web – not the web 2.0. Same way in traveling the revolutionary technology was the train – not the TGV. I am not alone with these thoughts. The web is (and has always been) a social media. (Thank you for the links).

Of course it is great if people see “the light” under the brand of “web 2.0”, but still, we should always at first think the process of learning when talking about the tools (web or web 2.0) that are used in it. I am sure we will do this in the Konfabulaari.

One thought on “Konfabulaari 2006 – unconference in Helsinki and e-learning in Finland

  1. Being responsible for using the term Ristiinvalottamo I'd like to give a try in translating it. Valottaa means to shed light on something or to expose something to light, especially in photography. Risti is a cross. So ristiinvalottaa as a verb means for example 'to expose to several light sources from different angles' and ristiinvalottamo is a place where such activity is carried out. If I would organise such a session in English, I would probably call it Multiangulatory of multi-angle observatory..Mikael

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