Friday, October 1, 2010

Implementing VC 2.0 in a Moodle-Intensive University


The evolution of Moodle towards Moodle 2.0 is not merely a technological development.  To get the most out of the new LMS, there are of course pedagogical issues and opportunities; but there are also institutional and managerial issues and opportunities.  The defining characteristic of Web 2.0 is not technological, but  conceptual: the envisioning of the web as a collaborative space,  flexible, interactive, and driven by the people, for the web is ultimately not a web of information but a web of people (learners and teachers, users and abusers, twits and facebookworms and whomever else).  This is a fundamental paradigm shift which Moodle has always embraced and which, arguably, accounts for Moodle's increasing popularity over other more transmission-based elearning platforms. Conveniently for eLearning enthusiasts, this conceptual change from transmission to interactivity precisely parallels a similar change in the quality and qualities of learning, away from passive "stand and deliver" teaching-centered pedagogical models to those which place the student at the centre of the educational experience.  Thus "Learning 2.0" became a wry catchphrase at the recent Moodle Moot in Melbourne; Moodle 2.0 straddles both these shifts in education and web communication.

University managements are also centrally preoccupied with envisioning  the imminent future of both education and the technologies that support it.  They carry the responsibility to determine policy, allocate resources, and advocate to Government in the interests of teachers, learners, and the people and systems who support teaching and learning.  However, understanding of the conceptual and paradigm shifts occurring within education, the web, and the relation between the two is at best uneven across the executive management levels in Australian Universities.  Consequently, those who are responsible for operating at the Moodle coalface have often also to advise, negotiate and wrestle with managerial issues in a decision-making environment problematised by widely different and conflicting paradigms of education, and of Moodle's role in the educational process.

This paper makes a case for the need to implement a new model of university manager; a Dean, PVC or VC 2.0 who is comfortable and articulate within the new conceptual, technological and pedagogical spaces.

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