reflections and ideas on open and distance learning - by irwin devries

Hitting the walls as a learning strategy

In one Moodle assignment we were given the restriction of working within a wiki without access to the forum. It’s a different experience when you are doing this in an LMS and you see challenges and affordances of the wiki within a broader context. An affordance of course is a page magically appearing, enhanced and added to or edited by various people in the community. A challenge is to let your ideas and words float out into the ether, for others to change. Personal ownership takes a backseat to the group. Also it is difficult to tie this process into the main stream of the course. But it really is a marvellous thing seeing everyone’s contribution melding into one flat document. Some form of emergence.

I like the instructional strategy of trying to take a learning technology and play with it experientially and experimentally at the same time–see how far it can be stretched in terms of its own tools and features. Play with it till you hit the wall. (Whether it is a personal, social or structural wall…well that’s another whole discussion. ) But it must be done with caution and an appropriate scaffolding, or else unnecessary frustration may be part of the outcome.


  1. Elizabeth Wellburn

    Really interesting observations Irwin.I think the ISWO participants are "living" the theory. It's one thing to read about how a wiki generates a collaboration that is different from a blog or a forum, but it's another thing to actually experience it, as you said. The range of social media tools has come into existence because each has it's own strengths and weaknesses and it's really interesting to watch how these play out.

  2. B.J.

    I so appreciate your ability to experiment in a playful, yet, authentic way with the tools. It is a real challenge to experiment and produce something viable at the same time. But, I agree that the 'proof is in the pudding' so to speak – can we experiment with this tool in such a way that we can see it's educational or personal/group growth applications.

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