#change11 Openness Community

As promised in my previous post, here is the text to initiate the institutional Openness Community. It was originally intended as an email, hence the request to email me in response – but interested people can add comments, tweet me, or email me.

Openness Community

I am currently creating a community to work collectively on the concept of openness in education. The intention is to develop an Open Educational Practice (OEP) within the community that can then be shared more widely. However, this is not a theoretical exercise, I’m interested in putting this into practice to create new and use existing resources, working openly.

To achieve this vision we will need to examine areas including

  • the production of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Courseware (OCW),
  • how to produce material to open standards for re-use by others,
  • how we would want to license such material under a Creative Commons Licence,
  • examine what software and services to use for production and hosting,
  • how to re-use existing OER appropriately,
  • where and how to access open resources including open textbooks,
  • the sharing of useful generic and subject specific resources including the creation of resource directories,
  • defining appropriate quality controls for production and prior to consumption.

The community can start from the foundations of the work of

  • UNESCO Open Educational Resources,
  • The Cape Town Open Education Declaration,
  • The Open Courseware Consortium, and
  • Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL).

There are a number of toolkits, frameworks and publicity materials available that we can use to inform and develop our practice. In addition, there are some significant ongoing research projects including those funded by the JISC and HEA that we can draw upon, as well as various experts and advocates in the subject.

The intention is that this is a grassroots community, pulling together like-minded individuals to create something larger than its constituent parts and furthering the mutual interest of openness across the campus and, hopefully, beyond.

Some areas where I personally would like to see experimentation might include

  • development and delivery of a course that uses only Open Content and OER as an example of potential,
  • providing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) within 12 months,
  • development of a peer reviewed Open Journal,
  • development and running of an Open Conference within 12 months,
  • producing an open textbook.

If you have a passion for, interest in, or useful practical knowledge of openness in education and would like to be involved in shaping the direction of this community, please drop me an email in the first instance. I will draw up a list of participants and convene an initial meeting and we will take things from there.

Kind regards
Mark Morley


#Change11 Openness Revelation

For years I’ve been enthralled by the concept of openness in education. I’ve written numerous blogposts:

I’ve developed an extensive bookmark collection over the past three years or so:

But being involved in the MOOC Change11 has prompted me to think about the whole topic in much more detail once again, particularly the David Wiley (post 1, 2, 3, 4) & Rory McGreal weeks.

I have written about the concerns I have in getting the message out onto a big enough stage quickly enough to prevent corruption or being usurped. However, (and thanks go once again to John here for introducing me to this) after seeing this video of Michael Nielson’s TED Talk, which has had a profound effect on me, and with the lack of responses I’m seeing from decision-makers, I am inspired to put out my messages straight into an open arena via this blog. Hopefully, it will mean that the ideas get taken forward and I will receive appropriate attributions, but it will certainly mean things happen faster from my perspective, which may mean less frustration for me though there could be more ‘fallout’ as a result.

Consequently, I’ll be posting in the next couple of days the text I developed to initiate an institutional Openness Community, and for which I haven’t received any satisfactory feedback.

Michael Nielson TEDTalk video:


BH1 Increasing Technology awareness of the student body

Sent as an email to the Education Officer of the local Union of Students in early July 2011.

Response: None


I’d like to see the level of awareness of technology and its uses for helping students with their own learning, research and ultimately employability raised across the University. To achieve this I want to assist in delivering direct provision via the Union of Students to give even greater added value to our students.

I’m an Educational Technologist at the University, working in the Learning and Teaching Services of CiCS. Whilst I continue to drive and participate in a number of institutional initiatives to enhance technology use in learning and teaching, I’m increasingly of the belief that direct intervention for students is required. Historically, I haven’t been permitted to do this wholesale directly to the undergraduate student population, but I believe that if I were to do it in conjunction with the educational section of the Union then it would be possible. Previously I attempted to introduce the Student Learning Community, an online community for students to share good practice tips about their own use of technology for learning. This didn’t get the traction I’d hoped, for a number of reasons. I believe such an initiative to be truly successful requires a series of complementary face-to-face sessions, possibly including workshops organised for and by the target community.

I’d like to meet up to talk through these ideas, with the anticipation of getting something in place for the Autumn Term. Would you please contact me with your availability?

Kind regards

Where are the responses?

I’m becoming increasingly frustrated when direct communications (emails, tweets, etc.) to individuals elicit no response. If the concepts and ideas I put forward are deemed to have little or no value and shouldn’t progress then I’d appreciate being told, rather than the silence I seem to be receiving from some ‘correspondents’. At least I’d know not to continue with my efforts rather than being left in limbo.

I am increasingly of the opinion that I should follow the example of the Henry Root letters and begin to publish my correspondence with the responses, or lack of, that I receive. But what do you think?

#change11 Notes from EdTechWeekly interview with Dave Cormier

I watched the Ed Tech Weekly interview with Dave Cormier about rhizomatic learning, with Jeff Lebow and Jennifer Maddrell as the interviewers. My intention was to repurpose the content and add in my observations. However, my ongoing medical issues and infections are causing facial problems so I won’t be appearing on a video any time soon. Consequently, I thought I’d put my notes thus far into a blogpost.

The timings in the left-hand column represent roughly when things happened in the video. Text in blue italics is from notes I made from the video content directly, and my comments appear directly underneath for each section.

00:00:13 – 00:01:24 Dave Cormier (DC) starts to say about hating to argue with Positivists I think I might have held a more Positivist stance when I was younger. Perhaps my outlook in my late teens & early twenties was kinda this way, until I started to grapple with things much more and didn’t see things solely in terms of black and white or right and wrong. That’s not to say I don’t still think that in some areas of my life; we’re complex creatures living in a complex Universe so it shouldn’t be surprising that we have a range of responses and aren’t consistent across all areas. There is still a little bit of me that yearns for truths that we can strive to find.
00:01:38 –
DC – asked what about the way people build aeroplanes or doctors practice medicine and treat people.Well I’ve had direct experience of this over the past year. A medical issue has been with me throughout the year and still is. I’ve had surgery twice, made numerous other hospital visits, and had umpteen infections. My case has been an unusual one, and as one doctor said to me “If you saw six different surgeons you’d receive three different treatments, some of which would be quite invasive and drastic.” As I talk through my situation with concerned colleagues and friends I always point out that the medical professionals I’ve encountered have done a fantastic job, and that there isn’t a clear way through these difficulties. This isn’t an exact science where doing this will lead to that outcome. It’s more a journey where we all find out new things that inform the future. Is that an encapsulation of learning?
00:05:32 –
DC gets tired of the argument with people saying it’s got to be objectivist or it doesn’t make any sense; not interested in having to dispel peoples’ beliefs. If people are willing to have a discussion that’s fine.This got me thinking about maybe different levels of belief. There are people with profound beliefs that are perhaps unshakable (or perhaps that could be very difficult to shake). These beliefs seem to constitute an element of what that person is.

However, are we not all shaped by what I’ll call ‘micro-beliefs’ which can be transient or longer lasting. I don’t know if this is right, but it kind of feels to me that we all make judgements about everything; we take a particular stance. These micro-beliefs are then open to discussion, debate and influence. When you participate in a discussion you come from a particular belief position, or can quickly take up a position within the context of the discussion, but part of the process is that you are open to suggestion and persuasion by other participants that can then influence and cause you to change your micro-belief.
Micro-beliefs then have the potential to change further or possibly become more solidified as you add further ‘evidence’ or support to that belief, which can then become more long lasting or be eroded by further investigation and discussion.

00:09:00 Only in the education system are things clearly defined and clearly attained. Elsewhere things are much more fuzzy. Learning is taking place in an artificial environment. People are coming out as robots that have to re-train for the next task they encounter.
00:13:00 Two people hear the same thing but walk away with two different understandings.This is a point I remember making during a course I did back around 2000. People’s comprehension is always different or always has the potential to be different. (There would have to be a research study to back up that ALWAYS DIFFERENT statement I just made.)
00:14:00 If you design the learning process to have the same outcome for everyone that won’t happen; it’s another artificial. You can force everyone to give you the same outcome but that won’t mean the same thing happens inside them.
00:14:20 Give people the language they need; the shorthand to enable them to communicate the concepts of a subject in a commonly understood format.
00:15:00 – 00:17:02 The Rhizome metaphor is really similar in a sense to the network metaphor. But the network metaphor is really really tidy. There’s dots, there’s points and lines connecting them. They are all contained and bounded and connected.It gives the sense that all you have to do is get that network like that other person and when you have it then you’re good.

The rhizome is personal in a sense. Each one is going to be different. The directions are going to be different. Every single entity is going to move off in their own direction and make those connections but they’re not tidy and they are not dots and lines, they are way more weird and disconnected than that.

This is the crux of things for me, encapsulated in this section. I think it’s been said earlier in the Change11 MOOC that ‘learning is messy’. Similarly, ‘networks of learning are messy’. They are fluid and dynamic, they move, ebb and flow from day-to-day with subtle differences in interactions and connections. They take off all over the place and aren’t linear.

00:18:00 Is this the individual? Where’s the learning institution?Yes individual learners

  • knowing
  • developing
  • learners experience
00:19:30 Computer age
The way we’ve always learned. Easier now. Not as much kudos in simply remembering what other people have thought.In the past, being able to remember what other people said was a valuable skill.
00:23:15 How are we going to innovate and create?Can’t grow on the truths we had before (the previous generation).
00:24:20 We don’t know what jobs our kids will be doing in the future. Many jobs don’t even exist yet.
00:24:56 Joining a system (e.g. Twitter) to build a network is one of the places where the Network model suggests replication all the time. And there lies the danger. “Try to figure out what the Network is & then replicate it. Then you’re right back in the same place again.”On courses I get people asking, “What does success look like?”

Dave says he has some failure to share.

For a course you need to build a structure to frame a discussion, for the learning to take place, otherwise you just have the web. (That’s what the web is a great big learning space with no walls.)

You can’t teach people what they need to know but they can learn how to go about doing it.

from the YouTube MOOC Change11 interview video Dave asked “What is the education system for?”If it is so people come out of it being able to be empowered to take things into their own direction, to be critical thinkers. That’s the reason we educate. The other stuff doesn’t go away, it’s just not the primary thing we’re trying to do.

Can replicating what other people said be a stepping-stone to understanding the concepts?

#change11 Stoloniferous Learning

This is Dave Cormier’s week on the Change11 MOOC in which he has placed before us Rhizomatic Learning. At the start of the week I wasn’t sure what this was. I read some of Dave’s writings and the responses of others on the course too. I’ve watched recording of EdTechWeekly #204 and others. Now by the end of this week I’ve not only got a feel for what Rhizomatic Learning is but also created my own learning metaphor Stoloniferous Learning.

This Rhizomicatic Learning metaphor takes me back to ‘A’ level (a British exam qualifications post compulsory secondary education and pre-tertiary higher educations). Back then I remember doing work about the Dodder plant, which from what I recall would put down roots, and runners would form and shoot off in seemingly random directions across. At some point it would stick roots down again and repeat the process. Looking up details of the Dodder I now see that it is a parasitic plant that sends out runners to locate a new host before entwining it and leeching from it. I don’t remember that at all (it was a long time ago). So maybe that isn’t the best example to pin my thought processes on.

So instead I thought about strawberry plants, now these are much more like it. These send out runners in seemingly random directions and then develop a new plant that throws down roots and the process continues. As I looked to check the details out a little more I realised that strawberries aren’t rhizomes though. Strawberries have what are called ‘Stolons’. A stolon is a shoot, branch, or twig springing from the root. These run horizontally above the ground and produce new clone plants. These new plants are termed ‘Nodes’ and they are spaced at random, varying intervals. The leafless stems between plants are called ‘Inter-nodes’. Such plants are called ‘Stoloniferous’. Hence I am introducing the new term ‘Stoloniferous Learning’ as a metaphor. It builds on Dave Cormier’s Rhizomic Learning work, but it is different. Rhizomes are largely underground stems, which for me implies unseen, concealed, even secret elements to the learning process. I’m more interested in bringing the process above ground with the inter-nodal elements of the stolons on show as part of the working out, part of the process, part of the mechanism.

This difference has implications for the learning process. Now these inter-nodes are kind of like bridges between someones conclusions; the thinking process is on show. This is significant. It means that the thinking process isn’t rigid and can be influences by other factors, other contributions, purely because of the fact that it is visible. Others can interact with these stolons; these learning processes, helping to shape them. And before the concluding idea takes root at the new point of contact for the learner, it can still be easily moved.

This process is taking place right here, right now. I’m working on my learning in the open. Maybe a new ‘plant’ will grow, but it is certainly open to influence, discussion, and re-directing because it’s openly available. Does this process need new immediate mechanisms to facilitate it? Quite possibly. Does it need a practice of openness, and the willingness to make mistakes openly? Yes, I think it does.

I’ll work on pinning down and defining the Stoloniferous Learning metaphor (or Strawaberry Plant Learning) more over the coming days and weeks.


Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach?

Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic learning – Response for day 2 and 3

Keith Hamon’s Defining the Rhizome

EdTechWeekly#204 – Rhizomatic Learning & Battling the Positivists

Change MOOC Discussion 11/9/11