gRSShopper vs Moodle – Any thoughts?

Sometime during the first sessions of CCK11 we talked about the absence of Moodle in this online course. George and Stephen emphasized that it was one of the key points of this version of CCK, that the independent nature of gRSShopper was important in the learningprocess. I too was one of those people who felt a bit lost in the beginning. Moodle creates some sort of structure or anchor to hold on to. “Let go,” they said, “be independent and learn to gather the information for yourself instead of working according to a set structure like Moodle. Make your own path, create your own channels.” I must say, it was really an eye-opener. I liked it, I searched for the things I was interested in, I made my path. Even more so, I didn’t really use gRSShopper all that much. Every week I consulted the readinglist, used the Elluminate-links, used it to gather RSS-feeds of the participants (but I read them in Google Reader…), etc. And then this popped into my head…

In making gRSShopper, Stephen tried (and succeeded!) in creating an independent place to gather information relevant to CCK11. So all the excess information someone would blog about, but not relevant to CCK11, is filtered out. Although I’m not a fan of the structure (navigation) of the site, it works beautifully in terms of bringing everything together in some way. But what is the difference with using Moodle to do this? If you use only the basics of this LMS, use it like some kind of gRSShopper, what is it that works differently? Place the readinglist, the links to Elluminate and the library of RSS-feeds in it and learners can still choose their own path!? Personally, I use Google Reader for my feeds (okay, they’re not filtered out, but I consider that a bonus), Evernote to take notes during Elluminate sessions, Twitter to stay in touch or read heads-up’s from the community, the Facebook CCK11-group to connect again, Diigo to share sources I encounter. The central scrutinizer (for all you Zappa-fans out there), be it gRSShopper or Moodle, to me is just another tool. Am I still making sense here?

For me personally, Moodle creates some sort of familiarity, that I like. It gives me that basis, that anchor to start from. I agree with the statement that we should beware of the set structure Moodle could suggest. Connectivism thought me too, that learners should find their own way, that it is all about their personal learning experience, not the path allready laid out in front of them, but the tool Moodle is as valid as gRSShopper is in some way.

Aftermath…

I’m partly taking on the role of devil’s advocate here, but none the less, the thought has crossed my mind. Where do we draw the line between independent, self-sufficient learning and using tools online? Aren’t tools always some form of constraint, some form of guided instruction, since you have to work according to the creators method? I think being flexible, learning how to work with different tools can and will enrich you as a student. The multitude of tools will let you find your path in learning, finding what you need and what not.

PS

Stephen, I’m NOT AT ALL criticizing your amazing achievement. Doing this course and enjoying it so much is partly because of your work!

PPS

Sometimes I feel like my mind is taking off with me, like my thoughts are somewhat incoherent, but still they exist. Bare with me…

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7 thoughts on “gRSShopper vs Moodle – Any thoughts?

  1. Alan, I like the remark of gRSShopper being centralized instead of being a tool. That is exactly what I mean. A personal learning environment is something I, as a learner, create. My own RSS-reader, my own social bookmarking, my own twitter, etc. So the CCK11 website as a source would be great. The centralized character of gRSShopper lets you check only 1 location to experience the whole CCK11 experience, but this shields it also from external influences. It makes the whole a closed experience instead of an open, connected one (although I cannot imagine this being the point of people like George and Stephen).
    I mentioned somewhere, that it would be great if you can decide what tools you use, but that all these tools are interchangeable (ex. chatting in google chats with someone using ms messenger). That would be true openness. gRSShopper does this to a certain level, it integrates everything, but in a way that you should use the gRSShopper-system instead of your own tool of choice.

  2. I agree that the comment streams (on the blogs and in gRSShopper) should be integrated and that it would be better for us each to have our own version of whatever tool is used to aggregate material. Actually I think that this is what Stephen also intends in the long run, but in the meantime there is definitely a disconnect between the ideal and what is happening – and I agree with Leah that the professed goal of spreading out the network would be better served by having the facilitators make their comments on the participant blogs rather than inside the central course site.

  3. This comment is written after reading a discussion here.
    My concern with all this is the following. Personally, I prefer a way of communicating where I can use my own tools/apps and where there is some sort of source or “well” where you can go that serves as a starting point. Maybe the word “central system” is too limiting. Reading the blog posts in the blog itself is more valuable to me then reading them in gRSShopper’s integrated system. Leahgrrl’s remark about the WordPress-issue is valid and wouldn’t be a problem if people used the blogs itself to comment. Some sort of notification system in gRSShopper that tells you there are new posts and links to the blogposts could be better?
    The comments on the blogposts should also be in the blog itself. Posting them here creates another place you have to check in order to read the fuss and buzz of certain topics. Google Reader, Diigo, Delicious, etc. are specificaly made to gather information to your own workplace, it would be taking a step backwards to add another place people have to check. Also your “outside-cck11” network can’t read the extra comments made in this site.
    The starting point, mentioned above, is a place where stuff like the reading list is, placed, the Elluminate sessions, maybe cancellations of some kind, extra information about the course, dates, etc. But these things should be able to be read in, say, an RSS-reader too!
    I always thought the idea of a connectivist way of learning was that you could use your own environment, use your own tools. So maybe my own title wasn’t the correct one. Maybe I should’ve written “Suggestions for a more personal gRSShopper”. Moodle could be the place to start from, but after reading your thoughts, I’m not so sure. Maybe that format isn’t the right one either. At this moment I’m moving towards the idea of some kind of website able to aggregate information without the internal commenting option, but rather a place that offers connections to other sites which in turn can be added to your own workspace.

  4. Interesting thoughts.
    I am both in CCK and LAK and I have to say that I would prefer an in-between solution (moodle and gRSSShopper).

    What I like about LAK is that everything takes place in a forum, I subscribe to it, and I get emails whenever there is something new. I read it on my phone, and I go back and post if I want/need to.

    What I like about gRSSShopper is that it gets Blog posts (with short previews!) so I can go to the particular blog if I want to, and it gets me twitter information about CCK. What I don’t like is the “forum” functionality which makes me go to the site in order to read what people have read. I would prefer to have that in my email đŸ™‚

    That said, I see more “life” in CCK than LAK – I wonder if it’s the topic, or the technology? or both? (or maybe it’s the people involved!)

  5. Thanks, Lars; you’ve put into words some of my own random thoughts. Here’s two more. First, the concept of distributed blogs, etc., I think is really great–but I’ve not noticed the facilitators coming “out” to the blogs to comment but rather using the gRSShopper system and commenting there. It seems to me, just replacing one central system for another.
    And that leads me to my uneasiness with gRSShopper just as a system–and I’ve made mention of this several times–it does not show whole posts from those of us using WordPress. It shows only the first line. And if someone’s using gRSShopper to catch up, it seems like s/he is more likely to respond to a discussion that they can read in its entirety rather than have to click on a link.
    Thanks for your thoughts,
    LeahGrrl

    • I agree LeahGrrl. The system is not perfect. The WordPress-issue is not so much fun, since I’m using it too. I would also like to see everybody taking more advantage of coming out instead of keeping it inside the gRSShopper-system.

      • One other thing re: gRSShopper is the time lag – it takes a few days for blog posts to show causing a bit of a hiatus or loss of currency – maybe?

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