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The Strength of Walled Gardens

The concept expressed in this post is reflective of a McLuhan-like notion of new tools being first adopted to do the work of the old. Only after personal experience and time do we realize that some new media/technologies are fundamentally different and continued adoption and use forces systemic ripples of change. The Strength of Walled Gardens: “What we end up seeing here are instructors who want to use wikis, but want to restrict access to them to their particular class. Most want to restrict write and edit access, some also want to restrict read access. They want to use wikis behind the garden walls that LMS’s have long offered. They want to use wikis on their terms.
To me, this is symptomatic of a growing disconnect of mindsets that we are witnessing as we move into an always accessible, open publishing, information saturated environment. I don’t want to assume this disconnect of mindsets is based on generational lines but I believe that the practice of protecting intellectual property through means such as copyright is a mindset that is being challenged in profound ways.”


  1. You know, I’m very ambivalent about this, especially since I’m in the process of evaluating LMSs to replace Blackboard. We’re specifically looking for options that have built-in wikis and blogs, even though that will create a walled garden. We’re running into resistance from students for using wikis “in the wild” though, so we’re hoping that this might help the transition for people who are less comfortable with this technology.

    But I wonder realistically if students who use a blog in a walled garden will ever create a blog out in public. If it’s within the LMS, it’s “safe,” but it also loses the benefit of the public audience.

    Right now, the walled garden is a baby step that we’re taking towards broader inclusion of connective technology. It isn’t the ideal for what I’d like, but it seems to be a more realistic step for my organization right now.

    Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  2. It seems that quite often people are not willing to share their expertise or existing learning materials from their desktops even in restricted spaces (walled gardens). The general argument of course is the fear of free rider mentality. Maybe institutions should start “rewarding” employees of publishing their ideas & expertise the same way researchers are evaluated based on their peer-reviewed publications. Maybe the change has to take place in terms of the predominating educational culture?

    I have tried to solve this problem by having students work in teams to create content for public wiki’s, which of course creates grounds for process-oriented learning, and is based on communal constructivism. In some cases however, students do not see them selves as experts, who can publish anything, and want to rely on teachers expertise.

    Friday, February 29, 2008 at 4:28 am | Permalink
  3. Hi George,

    I would not say that it is about protecting copyright, but offering a safe and secure environment that will encourage students to contribute. I think it kind of links into the baby steps idea mentioned by Christy. I think some students are a initially cautious of opening up.

    And sometimes you do not necessarily want all and sundry having a look and commenting. Do we not want beginners to work through their own solutions in their own time and not having more experienced viewers jumping the gun with comments and advice.

    what do you think George, Does that wash with you?

    Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:03 am | Permalink
  4. Hi Steve – yes, we sometimes need secure/private places in which to grow in our confidence. What is missing in most walled garden types of tools is the ability to step out of those private places when we are ready.

    Friday, February 29, 2008 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  5. Mick wrote:

    Hi George,

    Looking at it from a corporate perspective, we are looking to create a wiki that is a resource for our customers and members. By taking away the walls we take away one reason for our customers to purchase our training products or join as a member.

    Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink