Although we use Elgg quite happily alongside Moodle, it’s possible to imagine doing lots of e-learning via Elgg rather than a more conventional VLE, with teachers using their blog and e-portfolio, or a shared class blog, to post lesson notes and resource links, or to initiate discussions, and pupils responding either via comments or through their own blog. There’s a team in New Zealand working on Elgg-Moodle integration which will soon provide direct links between Moodle courses and a learner’s Elgg space, There’s also support for aggregated RSS feeds from Moodle forums, Flickr streams, del.ico.us bookmarks or elsewhere.
Well, where next? We plan to carry on using Elgg over the course of the year, as it’s such a good way of promoting learner autonomy and voice, and I hope my pupils will want to keep their blogs and e-portfolios going when they move on to their next schools. Rather than opening up access to their blogs, I’d like to include some of the posts anonymously on the school website, to give the pupils that sense of writing for a wider audience. I’d be very excited to see my colleagues, and my pupils’ parents, setting up their own blogs, with Elgg facilitating an extended learning community around the school. I’d love to explore some sort of collaboration with other schools, and building links between my pupils’ learning and that of other pupils, but we haven’t really got our heads round how to deal with child protection in a wider context – anonymity would be worth exploring, but ownership has been important for us; perhaps Shibboleth10 federated authentication will allay some of our concerns. Integration with Moodle will be interesting to follow, and I hope both projects will continue their development side by side.
I’m sure that software like Elgg has a huge amount to offer to schools, because it acknowledges the crucial social dimension of education, and makes the computers a tool for communicating knowledge, experiences and problems between people, rather than merely serving up pre-packaged content; in short, it’s personalized learning with the person at the centre.
Miles has asked for his contribution to be published under creative commons attribution, non-commercial, share-alike terms (see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/)
10 See http://www.becta.org.uk/corporate/press out.cfm?id=4934 for further information.