Edupunks Unite?

EdupunkI’ve been taking a very meandering course through reading and searching on the web recently, and I keep bumping into a really old phrase … “edupunk”. From the origins (I believe) in the whole ‘cyberpunk’ genre where the individual is “against everything”, the edupunk is a burgeoning force to be reckoned with. Whether it is “against the Institution”, or “against the VLE / PLE / LMS / etc” doesn’t matter, the decision by many more each day to question the decisions and not accept the (lame) answers is slowly making more cyberpunks / edupunks.

In the post “When did ‘Edupunk’ become about entrepreneurship?” the author (the ‘Reverend’). In arguing against the major corporations who offer their drivel of Learning Management Systems we, the educators and facilitators, are unwitting slaves to their system of form over function.

The Reverend is almost demanding that the edupunk’s among us;

“… question the irresponsibility and lethargy of corporations like BlackBoard and their ilk as well as the institutions that support this bad habit. Innovation has flat-lined for almost a decade in the land of Learning Management Systems, and let me be clear here that in my heart of hearts edupunk is not about entrepreneurship.

“Edupunk is a state of mind, it’s an attitude, and it’s a belief that the system in its current incarnation does more harm than good, and so much of the damage is born of the increasingly business logic of Higher Ed.”

D’Arcy Norman shares his view of edupunk as being:

“… a movement away from what has become of the mainstream edtech community – a collection of commercial products produced by large companies. Edupunk is the opposite of that. It’s DIY. It’s hardcore. It’s not monetized. It’s not trademarked. It’s not press-released. It’s not on an upgrade cycle. It’s not enterprise. It’s not shrink-wrapped.”

Leslie Madsen Brooks says of edupunks:

“Edupunk, it seems, takes old-school Progressive educational tactics — hands-on learning that starts with the learner’s interests — and makes them relevant to today’s digital age, sometimes by forgoing digital technologies entirely.”

In another find while searching, it seems even the hallowed halls of the Guardian Newspaper are questioning the role of the edupunk … “Nevermind the pedagogues, here’s edupunk“. The argument in favour of the edupunk movement strikes a chord with me, just as much as the argument against it may sit better with your own feelings.

Whichever side of the fence you want to be, the universal trend is that the managed and forced structure of the VLE or LMS is being recognised by the facilitators as too restrictive, the educators are too slow to realise it, and the accountants are too deaf to listen to us before they invest thousands of pounds (if not millions) and hundreds of hours in developing in favour of one solution that is an immovable lump hanging around the Institution’s neck.

The promise of a Web 2.0 ‘University 2.0’ is in need of some proper thought before it gets stuck going in the wrong direction with a very rough and rocky road to travel down before it can begin to find the right route. It could be enough to derail the Institution before it’s really had a chance to get going, it could certainly be the end of a few careers if they are seen to be the ‘corporate yes-men’ who took us down that road.

Edupunk … yes please.