OpenFiction [Blog]

Downes and educational producer culture

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on February 16, 2006

So the recent back and forth with Stephen Downes reminded me that I’ve had a presentation of his from last fall sitting on my desktop. I’ve been meaning to listen to it for some time and simply haven’t had the chance, but I did finally get around to it. I’ve asked before what the impact of producer culture might be on education, and Stephen’s talk seems to be the first best answer I’ve heard.

Producer culture for me is a wider phenomenon than the purely digital. It of course includes the new tools that allow for the creation of digital content–blogs, digital cameras, the iLife suite–but these are more broadly connected to the increased ease of production for physical objects as well. A few quick examples: On-demand production sites such as CafePress which allow anyone to produce custom books, mugs, shirts, mouse pads and much more; Fab Labs; and the many examples of user-centered production documented by Eric von Hippel in his book Democratizing Innovation.

I’m sure there are and will continue to be non-digital examples of producer culture impact on education, so Stephen’s picture is half the answer, but it’s a very compelling half. Stephen paints a picture that turns the current LMS world on its head. Learning will be organized, he says, not by central, institutionally controlled systems, but by individually controlled virtual learning environments that draw together content via API’s from all across the web. He does a much better job of explaining the details than I could, so it’s well worth the listening time (though be warned, the audio is pretty rough).


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