Slashdot | How Would You Design Your Dream Office?

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Help with designing an office of a very particular kind.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this post or the responses on Slashdot apart from the fact that, rather than offering the more typical popular Slashdot post that gives information or an opinion, someone with a learning need posted a simple question to the network yesterday and (to date) has received over 250 replies. Many are facetious and silly but the multidimensional scoring system works as an effective filter to help those with specific needs (those seeking answers that are funny, informative, interesting, insightful etc), and there is a wealth of useful information here, offered in many forms from stories to design specs to anecdotes to discussion. There is a kind of collective/network consensus forming, along with arguments that will help the person with the original problem to make a reasoned and well-informed decision.

The fact that this has risen to the top few posts of Slashdot implies that not only do many people have an interest in solving the poster’s problem, but that there are plenty of others who have similar problems and interests – me, for one. Who needs specific courses when the network is so good at making decisions?

This is a great example of crowd learning.

The quality, specificity, depth and range of responses goes far beyond anything that might have been achieved through asking a single expert, or reading books, or following an online course, or even getting one-to-one tuition. There is such a diversity of learning needs catered for here that it is hard to imagine any learner being left behind.

Of course, so much depends upon the kind of question and kind of network involved. Slashdot is news for nerds, and this is a subject that is of interest to many nerds, and in an area that is comfortably within the zone of proximal development of much of the readership. It is very task-focussed and highly contextualised. But this is exactly the kind of learning that we generally need. Brilliant stuff.
Created:Thu, 27 Dec 2007 11:04:26 GMT

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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