Mark Oehlert has a great post up on the implications of the proliferation of tools like Apple Widgets, Yahoo! Widgets, Google Gadgets, and so on, for learning environment design. (Some of you may recall that Apple widgets figured prominently in one of my early LMOS posts.) Mark's post is good enough to be worth quoting at length:
I think that as learning professionals we should care because the uptake of things like widgets reveal something about the preferences of our audiences. If people are attracted to these various widgets because the idea of crafting their own knowledge interfaces is appealing to them, then wouldn't it be a good idea, instead of throwing up or hands and saying 'that's not what we do', to rather figure out a way to turn that interest and that functionality to better serve our learners?
- Could we craft a widget that updates itself on your desktop whenever a new course is added to the LMS's course catalog?
- What about a widget attached to the other end of that LMS that could tell a manager at a glance, how many people had taken the mandatory compliance training?
- How about a widget as a window into a web-based content authoring tool to either see what was being done or perhaps even to contribute?
- What about a learner's widget that will instantly update her whenever the content of a course they have already taken is updated - so they can check and see if they need to re-take the course or just be aware of new information?
These things do not have to be pieces of a package that must be swallowed whole or not at all any longer. Sure, they can be and should be - when it makes sense - but I think we owe it to our learners to at least look at this technology and see how we can make it better answer their training and learning needs.
Right on. It's well past time to give teachers and learners more control over their learning environments.