Attended a webinar on the new Pearson “OpenClass” learning platform today. Pearson has announced a totally free Social Learning Environment (SLE), which they differentiate from a Learning Management System or LMS. The name alone describes the philosophy around this new system for online learning. OpenClass looks to create an environment that expands beyond each individual course. It allows for social discourse among students and instructors from all courses available on the SLE. This means that there is an air of e-Portfolio within the system with a hint of facebook and a dash of twitter. Although the demo did not go into great detail in terms of migrating content from existing LMS’s or building content within the SLE, it did promise ease of use as a main feature. It’s clear that Pearson has relied heavily on the Google Apps or Education API’s. Almost all social functions including group assignments and communications are done with the Google engines. This is where some institutions may become weary. I know that the U of S for example, is cautious about its policies around housing student information or evaluations outside of it’s own servers. Never-the-less, Pearson has done a great job making the community of practice the key element within their SLE which is a massively encouraging step in the world of learning MANAGEMENT systems. The difference is that students take control of their interactions, connections and activities as opposed to being managed into a box. I’m looking forward to learning more and trying the product out, but also to see the reactions by Blackboard and D2L. I imagine BB will just try and buy it like everything else, but whatever the outcome I think Pearson has given us a glimpse into the future of online learning environments.
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