The Web of The Future

Sometimes I miss the early days of the Web 2.0 craze. In a lot of ways, it was what spawned this website in the first place, where we used to have several contributors that would dig into the latest website looking to make it big on the Web 2.0 craze. It was always fun to see what new, weird mixes of ideas were coming along to challenge MySpace (remember them?).

I also remember all of the speculation about Web 3.0… which seems silly to even say a term like that now. But when I hear people talking about the future of the Learning Management System, or a what a true MOOC platform would look like, or our need to create an actual Personal Learning Environment tool, part of me likes to go back to those days of dreaming big and seeing what trickles out.

What of the future of the LMS/MOOC/PLE platform world isn’t one specific software design, but the next evolution of the Internet?

Before there was a “Web 2.0,” people were kind of just happy consuming content online. When they were made aware of the fact they could contribute content easily, people jumped on that opportunity left and right. But to be honest, even though the ability to do that existed for a long time before the Web 2.0 “revolution” happened, the execution was often clunky or odd. The true Web 2.0 “revolution” was about making it easier for the masses to join in. And, of course, certain other factors like the rise of high-speed internet and faster processing power helped immensely. But few people sat around wishing it would happen – it just seemed to appear overnight, fueled by a few skilled visionaries.

What if the next “revolution” in the Internet gives people the ability to remix the web itself? For example, if you wanted a site that had certain features of Facebook, a few Twitter options, the ability to interface with email, and the look of Tumblr, you would just click a few boxes and – Presto! – instant custom web platform for your specific purposes.

In a way, you can do a lot of this already if you know some serious coding. Or you want to tear apart WordPress or Drupal or some other open-source program. But what if someday we get the “Web 2.0-moment” where all of a sudden we can remix the Internet at will?

What this could mean is that we would have no one specific platform to rule over all LMS/MOOC/PLE needs. When you really think about it, the push to figure out what a MOOC platform “should” look like has a bit of a One Ring feel to it.

What if every instructor could remix tools to create whatever platform they needed for their class? What if students could remix tools to create whatever platform they wanted to learn through? Take the friend request function from Facebook, rename it “learn request”, mix it with the Twitter feed and hashtags, mix in some Tumblr magic for easy re-sharing, plug-in Digg’s ability to tag and comment on things, add Disqus ability to port comments across sites, and whip it together with Google’s search algorithms to help you find certain things in the mass stream and BOOM – there is your PLE that you plop onto your own domain. Or this remix is your “course” /community that you deliver your class through.

People are talking about remixing content – which is great idea. But I want to be able to remix the Web itself. And I want a quick, easy interface to be able to do so on the fly. And then change it next semester if I need to.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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