Brian Kelly: What if We’re Right? & Libpunk’d 3

Insightful post by Brian Kelly:

As I described in my response “Even If We’re Wrong, We’re Right” Martin’s post gave me a fresh insight into these issues. But what, I wonder, are the implications if we’re right? Perhaps it’s now timely to ask ourselves:

  • What if externally-hosted services do turn out to be sustainable?
  • What if technologies such as AJAX, coupled with ARIA support, provide usable and accessible services and define the type of user experiences which our users will expect in the services they use?
  • What if an’edupunk‘ approach succeeds in implmenting change, leaving behind the more formal approaches to IT development?

Now many of the pragmatic Web 2.0 users and developers are addressing the potential problems they could face with their risk strategies. But are the Web 2.0 sceptics assessing the risks hat they may be wrong? What about the risks that students will abandon institutional services (as, it seems, they are starting to do with email)? What about:

  • The risks that graduates will find it difficult to get jobs if they have little experience of popular Web 2.0 technologies, having spent 3 years using elearning tools which aren’t known outside the HE/FE environment?
  • The institutions which fail to attract new students, researchers or staff as they aren’t making use of popular social networking services?
  • The researchers who continue to work just small groups, using email and accessing papers on institutional repositories but don’t follow discussions which their peers are having in the blogosphere?
  • And finally what about the risks that IT development programmes ignore the benefits of lightweight solutions, preferring to develop more sophisticated services which aim to solve every possible contingency – and then nobody uses the service as it’s too complex for most?

The question needs to be asked: what if we’re right?

Serious stuff. I have given up Blackboard completely in my teaching at Dominican. I’d rather my course pages be open and easily accessible. Same with student posts – why hide discussions behind a wall when future librarians should be ready and able to join the global conversation?

I’m taken with the concept of “edupunk” and the mentions of “libpunk” as well. 

Brian links to this definition of Edupunk at Wikipedia

Edupunk is an meme referring to teaching and learning practices that result from a do it yourself (DIY) attitude. Many instructional applications can be described as DIY education or Edupunk. It describes inventive teaching and inventive learning.

The term was first used on May 25, 2008 by Jim Groom in his blog, [1] and covered less than a week later in the Chronicle of Higher Education[2]Stephen Downes, a commentator on the field of online education, asserts that “the concept of Edupunk has totally caught wind, spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire”. [3]

Kathryn Greenhill, who so graciously convened an amazing dinner for us in Freemantle and addresses so many incredible things on her blog, had this to say:


Does that mean that these actions *might* be an example of what we could, if we wanted to join the hysteria, call “Libpunk” ? Librarians using non-proprietary products and groupings not based on institutional alliances to practice their craft and communicate their practice? Open, collaborative enterprises based on not making money, but often on increasing social capital or extending knowledge?

I’m fascinated to see where this goes. 

3 thoughts on “Brian Kelly: What if We’re Right? & Libpunk’d

  • Jim


    I think you frame the issues surrounding the future directions of IT beautifully here. There are some really big, serious questions surrounding these open tools vs. the proprietary systems that are trying like mad to integrate that “Web 2.0 feel” and package the whole thing at an exorbitant cost (especially when you consider what you get for your money). Point is that the open web is a powerful LMS in and of itself, and we need to be teaching and learning within that space.

    This doesn’t mean everything has to be open, but we need to cultivate a culture of learning where we are using relevant tools to collaborate, share, and publish. If it can be open, all the better, but as you trace here, the systems we are asking students to think and learn within currently are increasingly more irrelevant, and we are losing them in droves. Why should we ask them to work hard on discussions and sharing within a closed silo that they have no option to make open, then take all that work away from them at the end of the semester and delete their intellectual labor?

    Part of it is that we still don’t indicate to students that the work they do is valuable and should be shared, which really needs to change. The other factor is that the axis of focus has remained on the course for too long with these “teaching” technologies. We need to move the focus to the individual and use the beauty of RSS to feed it out to class spaces that are flexible. I’m thinking an aggregator blog, netvibes, pageflakes, or what have you. A syndicated framework that is light and lays over these loosely joined tools that will forge a space of connection and aggregation, but still entitle everyone to their own work, allowing them to frame their knowledge as they see fit. Part empowerment, part pragmatism, all punk ;).

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