One of Rhizome’s founding principles is to make learning work with the web.

Surely putting learning resources and courses on the internet is working with the web?

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Well, not necessarily. Being online doesn’t necessarily mean working with the web. Working with the web means not imposing things on it, or trying to fight against it. The internet is a powerful place. Trying to work against it is always going to be ultimately futile. Think of it like trying to hold back the sea. You might get some success in a few small places, but not for an entire ocean.

But the web is a big place. How can I work with it all?

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The web is a big place, and there is no way you can occupy all of it. And why would you want to? Again, that’s a lot of effort for little reward.

Think instead about the digital spaces that are important to your learners. Where are they? What do they do? How is learning taking place there? Thinking about what you do online is a good place to start. Are you using social media (yes, at a guess). Which ones? Do you have a blog? Where are you going to find things out?

These places are the spaces where learning with the web happens.

How do I reach my learners in these spaces?

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This is where the real beauty of the web comes into play. You need to gather your learners into your digital space, and at the same time let them stay in the places they are happy. They can work together exploring the new space and new ideas from the comfort of the spaces they know and control.

The OER18: Open to All conference provides a great example of how to make this work. Lots of the conference delegates blogged about the conference in their own spaces. OER18 did a very simple thing to join these separate blogs. They gathered all the links on their website.

Now delegates and other interested people can find a range of perspectives on the conference and its discussions. These thoughts are all gathered in the same space: OER18’s space, which it controls. But at the same time, these blogs are all in the spaces of their writers (or publishers). Contributors are invited to share their musings with fellow delegates, but not required to put themselves forward in an unfamiliar environment.

And it is as simple as that. OER18’s page acts as a hub for the conversation, but does not confine anyone within the space. It uses the fluid, multi-dimensional layers of the web to its advantage, and the advantage of the delegates. Working with the web.

Lizzie Evans - Learning Consultant, Rhizome Live

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