After the experience of my first #blimage post (Desks of Doom), and I saw the amazing challenges and responses, I couldn’t resist getting involved again. There have been many new challenges that I have an idea of what I would respond with, but it’s the ‘shark attack’ challenge from Phil Denman (Everything is not Awesome) that I wanted to follow up with.
But first, if this is the first time you’ve come across #blimage, here’s a brief summary of what it is. In short, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), in conversations Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63), started the #blimage challenge, which is:
“a confection of Blog-Image. (Yes, we are now in the age of blim!) You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.
So, my response to Phil’s challenge. I couldn’t resist simply as it uses Lego. It’s a funny set-up of shark chasing surfer dude … and for me it’s the representation of our attitude to the VLE and the student(s). For me the VLE is the shark, and the surfer is the student.
Why? I’ve always believed the VLE we use is designed to elicit profit and control from the contract over efficiency or usefulness. Yes, in recent years the large VLE vendors have got better at listening to what the users (schools, universities, administrators, learning technologists, students, careers, etc.) want or need from it, and have started to add the functionality and flexibility people like me have been blogging about for ages. But I still see the VLE vendors playing catch-up to what is happening in the classes, schools, and universities. I understand the business model and the need to control the development cycle of a product, but if your users are trying desperately to help you make a bettere product then listen to them and act on it!? Does it really take years to fix basic functions that don’t work properly, or intuitively? Do they really need to have a predatory approach to customer relations or contract negotiation?
The surfer dude, the student? I see this element of the image as the innovative academic, learning technologist, the administrator who want less control and more flexibility, as well as the student who has more freedom to use different systems and tools according to what they want to do, and how they want to do it (the free-spirited surfer!). Whilst the basic premise of a controlled and safe online ‘walled garden’ for students to engage and interact with each other, and us, is a good idea, if it’s not used beyond the simple and predictable file store, then it’s users will go elsewhere for their collaboration, engagement, interaction, information, etc. They will become more reluctant and wary of the ‘shark’ and look for mores opportunities in the ‘free’ systems.
Will the shark catch the surfer, will the VLE ever catch the changing education landscape and provide the environment everyone wants? Well, there’s the big question … !
There, that’s my second #blimage challenge. Thanks Phil. For anyone else wanting to get involved, you can use Phil’s image, you can use mine from my original post (Desks of Doom), or you can use this one I’ve just found (yes, it’s Lego again). The only stipulation is that your response is learning related, and you pay-it-forward with your own challenge.
Johan Jonsson (CC)