你可能没注意到，但所有的互联网大公司都有e-learing方面的产品。Google提供了免费的 Google Apps for Education (包括Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Page Creator, start page). 微软有大量的education products (包括 live.com hosting/email 和潜在的教育群组软件), 苹果公司提供了免费的教育播客托管(iTunes U). IBM也是教育部门的一部分.
在线的办公协同软件也可以用来加强教育方面的协作，例如Google Docs & Spreadsheets 。实际上，这些大公司可以改变当前产品的适用范围并把它们推向学校。
协作 E-learning 系统
Elgg, Nuuvo and recently Digication are all examples of collaboration systems. We’ve already profiled Elgg, so I took the opportunity to interview Digication’s Jeffrey Yan to find out what’s happening in this sector.
Digication has the expected online classroom features, such as enabling students to submit assignments and teachers to control security settings. Jeff told me that users from over 380 schools have signed up to Digication – and it’s been a wide range of education facilities, from kindergarten to school districts to universities. For example, Jeff recently taught a college level course with Digication – using it as a supplement to the traditional classroom. His course only had 12 students and it lasted 6 weeks, but by the end of the course he said there were over 600 messages created by the group.
One pattern Jeff has noticed is that e-learning 2.0 tools are often promoted in a grassroots manner; which when you consider the usual hierarchical academic setting, is an interesting trend. Jeff told me there is a community of users who support these tools and “their approval/disapproval with features, functionality and direction can make or break a [e-learning] company.”
As for the near future of collaborative systems, Jeff says that blogs, wikis and podcasts will start to merge with more educationally focused systems in 2007.
Traditional Learning Management System (LMS)
Also known as Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), examples are Blackboard, Moodle and Sakai (the latter two are open source) The big commercial software like Blackboard is very ‘old school’ and doesn’t have much focus on the community aspects of learning. They’re also expensive and are generally seen as clunky and difficult to use – not unlike traditional Content Management Systems in enterprises (Vignette, InterWoven, et al). They also have a lot of features that most teachers and students don’t want or need.
Blogs / Wikis / Podcasts / Flickr
Many tech-savvy teachers who keep up with mainstream technologies are maintaining blogs, wikis, Flickr accounts, and so on. The Elgg community is a good example, also edublogs.org and wikispaces.com. Such tools are easy to use and spread quickly and virally. While they don’t integrate with school backend systems or address classroom-specific issues such as grading, blogs and wikis are proving very useful in the classroom.
There are also some interesting apps for students popping up, for example a collaborative note taking app called stu.dicio.us. Also check out the ReadWriteThink Printing Press, which enables users to create a newspaper, brochure, etc. So just as with enterprises, there are a lot of small apps bubbling up and ‘infiltrating’ the classroom.
There are many excellent resources in the blogosphere for e-learning 2.0. Here are a few of them: