"I think that as learning professionals we should care because the uptake of things like widgets reveal something about the preferences of our audiences. If people are attracted to these various widgets because the idea of crafting their own knowledge interfaces is appealing to them, then wouldn't it be a good idea, instead of throwing up or hands and saying 'that's not what we do', to rather figure out a way to turn that interest and that functionality to better serve our learners?"I've been playing with the idea of a Learning Dashboards NOT Portals. I think RSS aggregators are a piece of the dashboard puzzle, but widgets certainly play a significant role in my opinion.
But what I really want to address is the last part of Mark's first line..."reveal something about the preferences of our audiences." The technology that we use to connect our learners with the knowledge they need is NOT of our making. IT is the keeper of that flame, and opensource technologies are connecting people with technologies long before they get to our companies.
From what I've seen, everything created by the eLearning community has simply been a repackaging of what's already out there anyway. We repurpose the existing technologies and leverage their abilities to connect people that need knowledge with people (or databases) that have knowledge(or information): We are knowledge brokers. For the last 10 years we've been developing eLearning that most employees had never seen or known about until they "got real jobs" in corporations. Today, they are using far more powerful learning tools and entering our cherished corporate walls dissapointed at the lack of technology...see my last post.
Its obvious that blogs, wikis, RSS, flickr, myspace, facebook, and widgets, etc. all are having a significant impact on how we connect socially and express who we are and become productive. So, we MUST find a way to incorporate the tools of the real world inside the firewalls of the corporate world if we expect to get the best performance from our people. It won't all work out in the long run but it doesn't matter. Changes are occuring so rapidly in technology that stability basically means "if its in beta, it's good go." In this environment its good to fail, fast, often.