I recently heard about Medium.com, a kind of communal blog publishing platform where anyone can write about anything. This service could pose an interesting prospect for e-Learning discussions.
These days, it seems like most of the online e-Learning discussions are taking place on niche websites and specialized groups on social media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn). Twitter has helped shape the discussion into a single stream of content with topical hashtags like #elearning, but that service can only do so much since exchanges are limited to 140 characters.
Medium is different. Created by two Twitter co-founders in August 2012, they decided that they wanted to make a platform “for people who have thoughtful things to say” [source] and in a way that affords users the ability to express their ideas to a much more detailed extent than what microblogging services like Twitter can offer.
On Medium, users can submit their pieces to “collections.” These are essentially umbrella topics that are comprised of articles related to the parent topic. Users can “follow” collections, and this will not only give them easy access to that collection for future reference, but it will also affect the articles you see on the home page of Medium (akin to Facebook’s News Feed). When you begin following collections, you’ll start to see articles published in those collections appear in your Medium stream.
These collections are where I think e-Learning discussions have great potential to thrive. As of this writing, e-Learning content on Medium is very sparse—there appear to be only two collections, both of which have a very small number of followers and even fewer articles—but that doesn’t mean Medium is an unsuitable platform for publishing tips, tricks, and interesting insights about e-Learning; it may just mean that people haven’t discovered it yet or recognized its utility. Medium has a sleek, beautifully minimalist, and dead-simple WYSIWYG interface that requires no special expertise to figure out. Another useful thing about Medium is that it automatically detects the estimated amount of time it will take for a user to read each article (presumably by checking its word count).
In time, e-Learning professionals may find it useful to come together and either begin creating new content on Medium or cross-posting content they’ve already published elsewhere to that site. What would the point of this be? Imagine if all of the great e-Learning content could be aggregated under the umbrella of a single Medium collection, and you could receive a weekly e-mail digest containing brief previews of all the e-Learning articles published there that week. A streamlined, consistently updated source of information like this would be invaluable to those interested in staying up-to-date with all things e-Learning. True, this can be accomplished to a degree by subscribing to the RSS feeds of certain individual blogs, but that’s just it: they’re individual blogs. With a communal platform like Medium, you can benefit from collective wisdom, not just the insight of one person or a small group.