As both a librarian in FE and a recent distance learning graduate, I found this really interesting. I think the functionality of Facebook has significant appeal, as noted. It just works! It’s designed to connect people and does…but also works really well on loads of different devices. VLEs seem somewhat lacking in comparison and it takes a really good tech team and install come to close to the Facebook feel.
Could it be that Facebook provides a way get to get together and talk studies an altogether ‘cooler’ environment? There seems to be something about it that makes it OK to connect using it and talk about studies. VLEs often have this functionality but students don’t seem to take to them this way, so it would be interesting to find out what causes this disconnect for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Facebook’s just easier’ comes up.
That leads nicely to curating your own online learning environment. We’re now at that stage I suppose where it’s rather weird you can’t set up your personal online study space the way you like. If not, why not? Functionality sounds like a plausible answer again, although I know I’m overlooking some of the difficulties that may come with this idea. But I still can’t help but like the idea and wonder why we’re not doing it in some guise already.
As a librarian I can think of many reasons why we should run the VLE and the fact we think about things like this is definitely of them.
Thanks for a thought provoking article.