You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

On February 22, 2008 Otago Polytechnic will be running a 4 month part time Permaculture Design Course.

It is also being developed into an Open Educational Resource (OER) on Wikieducator. (Work in progress)

Local Permaculture expert Peta Hudson will be teaching the course, and the amazing Kim Thomas (aka Horty Kim) will facilitate and help develop OER.

In the wiki is a full break down of the course as it will initially run, including budget and fees. The development has received seed funding from the Otago Polytechnic sustainability fund and we are working on ways to make it economically sustainable in the long term without making fees prohibitive for people wanting to benefit from the course. (Producing OER for the course is one part of that…). We are also aiming to widen the scope of the course so as to attract designers generally into thinking about the principles of Permaculture in their work.

This post is to both promote and note the work and intentions behind the project.


Otago Polytechnic is throwing a lot of weight into developing itself as a sustainable organisation that provides holistic education around sustainability. In this effort a small fund was made available to seed ideas and new projects that advance that effort. A proposal to develop a Permaculture course was developed with initial input from William Lucas, Mark Jackson, Kim Thomas, Peta Hudson and myself. After some fiddly administration tweaking to make the course fit our particular ways, the proposal was accepted and we were given the go ahead.

The course.

Kim Thomas and Peta Hudson used to run a short course out of the Horticulture Department called Introduction to Organic Gardening for the City Dweller. Essentially the content was very similar, or enough to use as a basis for the Permaculture Design course that we would build and widen scope from. Peta developed a schedule for the course, electing to use 9 x 6.5 hour workshops on Sundays so as to be available for hobbyists and professionals. While the first course will run on this schedule, we hope to find ways to widen the scope and content so as to attract professional designers and other industry sectors interested in sustainability, and the ideas that Permaculture may bring to developing sustainable production systems and living spaces. We hope that design lectures will become involved in the course and help as achieve this goal.

Open Educational Resource:

The first instance of the course will be thoroughly documented with a view to producing a range of educational resources to support all potential learners, as well as feedback to the teachers and participants. This material will be made openly accessible on the Wikieducator platform and used to support future developments of the course. It is hoped that the project will gradually attract input from other professionals and that collaborative development partnerships will form that will assist in the objective of widening the scope of the course.


Wikieducator are hosting a course in Open Educational Resources, MediaWiki editing and using WIkieducator on 28 January to 8 February. Learning4Content is an initiative where Wikieducator offers free education and training in return for participants producing a lesson plan, activity or learning resource on the platform.

Check out the promo video that was made on the web based and collaborative video editor Kaltura now based on the Wikieducator platform.

So Sunshine and I have lived in Dunedin NZ for 2 years now. That’s a long time in my mind, but it seems I have a lot more time to go before I can say that we’ll feel connected here 😦

In Australia, I felt quite connected in my profession – even though I was only in it for a similar amount of time 2001 – 2005. I was regularly on the phone with fella edubloggers, editing up the next wiki page, toying with new ideas, and being invited to join in talks all over the place, at conferences and stuff. Actually, I still get called across the ditch to talk at conferences, although the number is dropping. It seems my move to NZ, and taking a job inside an educational institution has distanced me from my Australian connections, but I can’t say that a sense of local connection has taken its place.

A technorati alert has introduced a link with John Vietch, a rare as hens teeth and not very prolific NZ blogger who is also dwelling on the widley acknowldged social distance, isolation and seeming disconnect in NZ culture:

…The problem behind the poor success rate on social networks is not in Ryze, Xing, Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s in our own heads and in the community.  There is a lack of social permission in the community to be strongly involved in these networks…

Weak uptake of read write communications in NZ is not really a measure of the phenomenon that John is alluding to though. I’d say the phenomenon is widely recognised before considering the uptake of Internet, because the few local friends I do have here know that it is hard to make friends or make connections in NZ, especially southern NZ. There’s a reputation in Dunedin that to be successful in business here, its not so much who you know, but who your farthers farther knew! 🙂 I’m not sure how true that is, but its certainly not hard to strike up conversation about the strange and very subtle cultural phenomenon that evades words for me at the moment. And I should acknowledge my own cultural background as being different to here and so may be having an impact on any observation I try to make as well.

I have tried with varying degrees of success, but mostly failure to establish professional communication networks through Internet channels. The face to face and corridor talk still prevails however, and projects remain crippled by low numbers, reliance on physical meetings and poor coordination and reach.

John seems to have a lot more experience then I do working on this in NZ, and I wonder if he’ll continue to reflect on it over the coming days?

Will improved internet communications infrastructure in NZ (particularly southern NZ) necessarily translate into better uptake and use of the Internet? Will it generate a networked, more informed and perhaps more communal NZ? Or will a deep seeded sense of isolation prevent the extroverts within from reaching out and making new connections? Or will the migration of popular media and communications to the Internet (like Google Video and Youtube, Facebook and Beebo) effect a cultural change in NZ and help to undo the private and almost invisible restraint within Southern NZers?

“Blackboard, Windows, Photoshop” – familiar names to specific markets who are being pressured to take action or decide on something…

“Open Source Software, GIMP, Linux, Blogs, Wikis” – Unfamiliar names to specific markets who are being pressured to decide or take action

Fear paralysis or more accurately, ambiguity aversion is an entirely natural and a well known feature of the human brain. Well known to marketeers and spin doctors that is.

I blogged about this some time ago. Now here’s a quick 2 min video describing the Ellsberg paradox. Thank you George.

lego.jpgIn this project a three dimensional virtual world is constructed with the use of a LEGO camera and a set of LEGO blocks. The goal is to design a construction method that is simple enough for middle school-aged children to use and at the same time is able to produce quality models for higher end users. The method was developed using RoboLab and involves a one-camera view of Lego blocks that are arranged in a certain pattern to represent a building and its contents. When the pattern is placed in the view of the camera, the software identifies the pieces by their position and colour and builds a 3D model in OpenGL. This 3D model is displayed on the screen with the specified characteristics. The user can then modify these objects to further refine the model.

Research uncovered by:

Jeeez-us! Is this for real! If it is, then it leaves all virtual worlds and shooter games for dead… Bring on the Vanilla Skies…

I have my slides ready for a discussion with the FLNW gang tomorrow
– UTC 8am Wednesday in Jokadia and Skypecast. Thanks to Peter Shanks wonderful FlickrCC for helping generate the slides. I’m hoping for some discussion about our work here developing open education at Otago Polytechnic.

So The Future of Learning in a Networked World (FLNW) 2008 has started! What was originally a mad dash across New Zealand by a group of non stop and intense educationalists back in 2006, is now a group in Thailand touring schools, and another group online hosting a series of online events from Second Life to Skypecast.

First off the ranks was Leo Wong from China giving as a very open, honest and emotionally moving account of his attempts at using Web2 in his teaching. Already Alex has uploaded a rough edit of the audio recording, I have started a text transcription, Brent has cleaned up the audio and added intro and outros and posted it to Archive, and Stephan has followed up with Leo for a second interview! Leo Wong’s slides he prepared a day or two before his interviews are available on Slideshare. Powerfull collaboration across 3 different countries in the space of 12 hours. Expect more.

The FLNW Itinerary is still being filled up and adjusted by the minute, and the blog struggles to keep up with all that is happening and happened.

Beth Kanter went to Skypecast 2 hours ago, I am bumbed I missed it due to a work commitment, but Stephan Ridgway caught a recording and will be posting it anytime soon. I hear it was a really good dicussion and I’m looking forward to my chance to join in asynchronously…

The Thailand gang are meeting up in a few hours at the Manorah Hotel in Surawongse in Bangkok and so will begin their tour on Thai schools.

And all that was just today! Tomorrow looks to be a biggen!! Starting UTC 1am Wednesday in Jokaydia, the original FLNW tourers will meet up and reminisces the madness of the NZ tour. And then at 3am UTC Teemu Leinonen and I will continue our heady conversations about open educational resource development peppered with a bit of groups and networks debate in the UBC Colosseum in Second Life.

It goes on! Harold Jarche at 8pm UTC. Nancy White at 10pm UTC…

But there is still room for more in the following days. We expect to get audio recordings in from the Thailand group through those days, and I hope to pin Steven Parker down for a chat about Networked Learning in the Tourism and Hospitality sector… so watch that wiki page!

I’m waiting enthusiastically for Dave Wiley’s summary of his Intro to Open Education course. Dave has given us a brief update just to remind us its coming…

I was quite inspired by the simple and familiar layout of the course outline, and the obvious and understated requirement for participants to maintain a blog in the course. I should have set my news reader onto all the participant blogs and watched the progress more closely, but hopefully Dave’s summary will represent the good bits…

Dave’s course has clearly inspired the Fins with their own course in Composing Open Educational Resources on Wikiversity – which looks to be another very useful course. And I think I’ll encourage the teachers here who are working on Wikieducator to develop their course pages in much the same way.

I know we in EDC have been needing to rejig our own wiki course outlines, and I’ve been wanting to do something like Dave’s design since I saw it. We are also requiring participants in our course to maintain blogs while in the course, but boy it can turn into a heavy workload.

I quite like the stand off, low key, high expectation style of Dave’s approach and am hoping to learn ways to better manage my time coordinating and facilitating our courses that use blogs and wikis… so, waiting for Dave’s summary 🙂

Sarah Stewart has picked up on a conference taking place here in Dunedin that I know very little about. Part of me is offended that I know so little about a conference being organised in my home town without any of the organisers talking to me directly about it. But universities are a bit like that really, and maybe Dunedin is chock full of people living and breathing “computer mediated social networking” that they don’t need to seek out other locals… personally, I have not found many at all.. perhaps they just research it.. whatever the reason, as Sarah points out, we can’t not submit ourselves to their authority something for inclusion in the program if we are to regard ourselves in this field at all.

On looking at the topics for the conference it would seem that our experiences with running the Facilitating Online Learning Communities course would be a good candidate to talk about. I’m a little put off by the tone of the conference though, and a bit at a loss as to how we might go about packaging what we know about that experience up into a presentation of some sort of “research” for this conference. I do know that there are quite a few things about our experiences that the conference attendees would find interesting, starting with the things Sarah points out such as personalised learning through blogs and wikis, and open access to the course and how that resulted in a better learning environment and fee paying enrollments.

I would like to extend the proposal to talk about open content, the difficulty of negotiating the participatory expectations of such a course with the traditional educational models of ‘stand and deliver’, and the discussion around facilitator or teacher. I’d also like to point out to model courses that follow this vein, such as Dave Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education and the work in progress on Wikiversity, Composing free and open educational resources.And then of course we could talk about the bigger picture at Otago Polytechnic.

So, my initial thoughts are that we could talk about:

  1. The set up and maintenance of the Facilitating Online Learning Communties course
  2. Experiences of the participants and examples of how their new learning is being used in their work
  3. Outstanding issues and considerations arising from the course
  4. Further work we will do in developing education generally at Otago Polytechnic using socially networked media and communications.
  5. Frank and honest discussion on the probable and existing issues with this vision and Otago Polytechnic

I think it would be good to beam the likes of Sue Waters and some of the 10 minute lecturers in on the day as well, to get their impressions and reasons for participating on the air… as I think they played a very significant part in the course that we have not really captured yet.

A fascinating read about an historic period in NZ education policy in the early 1960s, unearthed by the wonderful Kiwi Research Information Service’s recent items RSS feed.

The Currie Commission and Report on Education in New Zealand 1960-1962

The interaction and networking of key participants is studied and the important inter-relationship between central bureaucratic interventions and powerful educational pressure group activity points to the continuing operational success of central government processes. The often competing forces of provincialism and centralism in New Zealand education underlie many of the conflicts surrounding educational change. Religion, race, gender and class are forces that continually interact to create legitimation crises. The governmental attempt to minimise or at least rationalize these socially contested differences in education from 1960-1962 is the subject of this thesis. An analysis is made of the process by which public dissatisfaction regarding education in the fifties and sixties was mediated and largely marginalised by the educational bureaucracy. This is done by a thorough examination of the interaction of pressure groups, unions, media and governmental agencies during the two year submissions to the Commission on Education 1962. The distinction between the commission’s report and the submissions and interrogations leading up to the report is important, as the primary data extracted from the primary resource material in the submissions, at times, contradicts the departmental view as expressed in the report itself.


Creative Commons License
All original work licensed Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.