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John C. Havens interviews Simon Young and Leigh Blackall about Simon’s recent transparency focused contest and results.

Blogtalk Radio source

MP3 on Internet Archive

Mike Caulfield posts an interesting observation about 2 different types of openness. There’s openness with re usability as a primary design principle, and then there’s openess with transparency as another design principle. Mike suggests that re-usability can create drag on transparency, and I have to agree.

At Otago Polytechnic we have been trying to achieve both at the same time, and some may have noticed that I use the term “open educational resources and practices” to encompass that intensive approach. There is a sense urgency in our need to update skills, awareness and policies to a point where we able to offer quality services in open (flexible) education arenas. But as Mike suggests, there is observable drag in doing both.

Take for example our use of MediaWiki on the Wikieducator service. Certainly not the easiest wiki to use, but one that does offer considerable amounts of re-usability in terms of MediaWikis. So.. do we support and endlessly motivate staff to use MediaWiki.. or do we start with something easier and focus on transparency alone? Most say start with something easier.. and true, that would get more of us going sooner, but the later workload in redevelopment for re-usability would be pretty sizable.

In saying that though, perspectives change over time, and what may be considered best practice for re usability today, may change tomorrow – which is only another point that at first glance supports the notion that its a bad idea to go for both forms of openness at the same time.

My only hope is that by working towards both at the same time, we are in fact addressing all aspects of openness at once and achieving a deeper level of understanding. By doing both at the same time, some of us will reach that tipping point sooner, a point where we are in fact skilled and aware of what it takes, and not merely cosmetically transparent.

But underneath it all in this approach is a worrisome level of low uptake and motivation caused by that big basket we call “too hard”. If more people toss to that basket, we may in fact never reach that typing point and always be at odds with mainstream operations that are not satisfactory…

I’m just thinking out load here… Thanks for teh food for thought Mike


Bring it!

Link to video on Youtube

Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 21st century and shattering the wall between users and producers.

The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.

A participatory media experiment, from day one, Brett shares his raw footage at, for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A remix manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle.

Which side of the ideas war are you on?

Thanks D’Arcy for pointing it out.

John Gatto:

This great school crisis is interlinked with a greater social crisis in the community. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent. Nobody talks to them anymore, and without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the name community hardly applies to the way we interact with each other at all. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that.



WikiMedia Foundation, UNESCO, COL, OER all come to mind when Foucault finishes up with a caution on that we must not reinvent oppressive institutions. Such eloquence. Where did all that go?

Thanks for the pointer Peter 🙂

borrowed time | demi-brooke

Mouthing off. CCBy: borrowed time | demi-brooke

The incredible ability of the education sector to seperate itself from reality is just incredible. I guess we have to accept that it has been common practice in education for a long time. Rather than teach in the real world we taught in the classroom, and with rules and regulations to sustain that very system. So its little wonder that the same embedded cultural drives in the sector will cloud over the development of new practices and absorb innovation and subversion so that no change is possible.

This is another hissy fit about LMS, VLEs, PLEs and now ePortfolios.

I remember when the backlash to the LMS started brewing back in 2004 as the social web star rose.. defendants of the LMS started side stepping and compromising with a new definition to Managed Learning. Definitions that described the LMS/VLE as a process rather than a product. A process described with a variety of tools at hand to do the thing, rather than necessarily a single central tool like say Blackboard or Moodle.. Nice one, that way we all got to keep our jobs and didn’t have to explain the great waste of resources into LMS development and content. The obvious success of social media services compared to the giant failure of educational technologies should have resulted in mass redundancies, but it didn’t. Instead we find people flogging that dead horse with open mimicking within broken toolsets.. MyLearn comes to mind as an attempt to keep those very costly resources somehow relavent…

Next, when the social media affordances starting to dawn on the education sector in 2005, some bright spark programmers in the education sector thought they’d try and “invent” something that would attach them to the giant nipple of the education cash cow.. they brought us the Personal Learning Environment (PLE). It was going to be a solution to the chaos of the social web, it was going to give all those slack education managers something to spend money on so they could say they were on to it, and help with assessment, validation, auditing and mind control.

But then the likes of me and a few others started shouting “snake oil” and thankfully the PLE movement side stepped it again and described it more as a process rather than a product. Another win for freedom, flexibility, personal choice and financial savings.

Now, the “ePortfolio” just won’t go away and we have products like Mahara knocking at our door today, getting big public money grants, and distracting our teachers and students from just jumping into the Net and learning core transferable skills such as managing RSS, editing Wikipedia, loading to Youtube, using Google Docs, Maps, and learning how to manage their online identity across all the platforms they are REALLY going to use (and yes, including that abomination called Facebook!)

I’m still waiting for the side stepping from the ePortfolio crowd, the bit where it becomes more about the process rather than the products.. in the meantime it seems like everyday I am having to explain to colleagues that the word ePortfolio is a sales pitch gimmick for something we already freely have access and do!… since, well.. the Internet.. but more realisticly 2004 when Google bought Blogger etc.

One such colleague who I constantly harass with this gripe (poor thing), is Sarah Stewart. Thankfully, I think she is agreeable to my brain washing now and will be a loan voice over in Brisbane for the Australia ePortfolio Symposium (trade show?)…

Man! When will these distractions and money diverters cease! Probably when the education cow stops waving its teats around and focuses on reality. There is a life time of usefulness and need to know right here on the WWW of information and communication that we need to be showing people how to use  well. We have a real world of it to learn in and we don’t need classrooms to put up technical and designed barriers to it, or delete our presence when we stop payingtheir fees, or say something unsavoury. We don’t need, and shouldn’t want some out-of-date-before-its-off-the-shelf product to interface with our use of the Net just so education bean counters can have an easier time assessing, validating and reporting to audits. Just get in there and use the web as it comes, and learn to use it intelligently, and help education managers learn how to save a couple of million dollars on software gimmicks and adjusting job descriptions to suit the “changes”.


Update: Just found this post from Derek Wenmoth relevent.VLEs slow to take off.

Ah well – I guess we’re still embarking on the journey. What I’d hope we’ll see though is an equivalent amount of energy, effort and expense put into understanding the pedagogical value and opporutnities of a VLE/LMS/MLE as we are seeing go into the development (and sales) of products, systems and applications.

Borderline tasteless political satire in a game: Raid Gaza.

I was thinking, while spending millions of US aid money blowing up as many Palestinians as possible (the objective of the game), how much money it would take to improve Palestinian standard of living, create meaningful jobs, compensate Israeli families for their losses over a period of 5 – 10 years of terrorist activity without an Israeli response, and maintain a 10 year world cultural festival for arts and culture over the whole region (smother everyone with humanity and love).. I wonder if that would be cheaper than 2 weeks of missile and air strikes?

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning has called for papers for a October 2009 theme issue entitled: Openness and the Future of Higher Education. The Guest Editors are Dr. David Wiley and John Hilton.
I can’t very well let this issue go by without submitting something from Otago Polytechnic, so this is an abstract for a paper that will critique Otago Polytechnic’s efforts to use open educational practices in staff training, organisational change, course development, and educational resource production.

Otago Polytechnic has been moving towards open educational practices since 2006 when it established the Educational Development Centre (EDC) in charge of staff and course development. The EDC began educating staff at the Polytechnic on the virtues and benefits of openness – primarily through Internet communications and media such as blogs, RSS and wikis. By 2008 more than 100 staff members had been shown how to professionally network online, with 20 regularly maintaining professional blogs and several more authoring more than 83 open courses and educational resources online.

In October 2007 Otago Polytechnic’s executive staff implemented a long awaited Intellectual Property Policy that explicitly encouraged staff to claim ownership of their work, and to openly publish online with Creative Commons Attribution licenses. Additionally, the policy stipulates that all IP produced and owned by the Polytechnic would start defaulting to that same license. This policy thrust the Polytechnic into the international spotlight with citations from Creative Commons, Commonwealth of Learning, Pennsylvania State University, conference keynotes and numerous educational blogs. In May 2008, the Chief Executive signed the Capetown Declaration on Open Education.

On the surface all this would appear to be good progress in the development of open educational practices at Otago Polytechnic, and on many levels and in many instances it is. However there are a number of areas in need of attention and wider discussion. This paper will interrogate Otago Polytechnic’s efforts: presenting statistical data; surveying staff and student attitudes and awareness – with particular attention to counter voices; analysing the depth of the organisational change – highlighting the status of interdepartmental communication and work flows; and case studying innovations in open educational practices by some of the Polytechnic’s enthusiasts for openness in education.

This paper will attempt to take an all encompassing look at New Zealand’s leading institution for open education and present a balanced and authentic representation of the experience of its staff and students working towards openness. This paper will be complimented by a documentary video funded by AKO Aotearoa New Practices grant. It is hoped that this effort to document, interrogate and critique the Otago Polytechnic experience, free from hype and bias, will shed light on the full picture of open educational development in a New Zealand tertiary education and training institution, giving the national and international movement something to benchmark on and move forward from.

More info

We were all then convinced that it was necessary for us to speak, write, and print as quickly as possible and as much as possible, and that it was all wanted for the good of humanity. And thousands of us, contradicting and abusing one another, all printed and wrote – teaching others. And without noticing that we knew nothing, and that to the simplest of life’s questions: What is good and what is evil? we did not know how to reply, we all talked at the same time, not listening to one another, sometimes seconding and praising one another in order to be seconded and praised in turn, sometimes getting angry with one another – just as in a lunatic asylum.

Leo Tolstoy: A Confession. 1882


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