Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning

I didn't go to ed school -- I'm one of those private school teachers who opted for the subject-area route. As I look back over my career, I sort of wish that I had taken some education courses. Some of my major "insights" turn out to be things that ed school people learned from the get-go. But books like "Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning" make me see the other side of things and realize some of the nightmares I avoided.

The book reads like a caricature of every bad graduate school, techno-babble-filled I've ever read. In history, the equivalent was the spate of postmodernist, Derrida-esque studies involving "hermeneutics" and "topologies" of such things as textuality, logocentrism, and the like. Anyway, this book seems to outline the obvious. It develops a typology of communities and the analyzes the methodologies involved in constructing a virtual community. The premise is interesting: can we develop meaningful virtual communities for education? The book itself never seems to get to this topic, however. I look at the pages, read the words, and then I just hear buzzing inside my head. For the life of me, I don't know what the authors are trying to say. Part of it is probably me. I never "got" those types of books in grad school and I think I've just got a mental block. Read this one at your own risk.

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