Virtually Connecting beim #OERcamp17

Virtually Connecting hat meine Art über Bildungstechnologie und über Offenheit von Bildung nachzudenken im Lauf der letzten 1-2 Jahre stark beeinflusst. Meine Eindrücke von Virtually Connecting bei der Online Educa 2016 (hier und hier die jeweiligen Blogbeiträge mit wenig einfallsreicher Betitelung) sind hier vielleicht ein gutes Beispiel. Was Virtually Connecting ist, versuchen Martina Emke und ich hier zusammenzuschreiben.

Bisher habe ich Virtually Connecting nur bei englischsprachigen Events wahrgenommen. Das hat sicher den Grund, dass die Gründerinnen entweder Englisch als Muttersprache haben oder aber in ihrer täglichen Arbeit und ihrem persönlichen Netzwerk auf Englisch als Sprache zurückgreifen. Auch liegt der ‘case’ für Virtually Connecting bei einer englischsprachigen Konferenz eher auf der Hand, geht des doch u.a. um die Verbindung zu Konferenzen, die man aus welchen Gründen auch immer nicht erreichen kann. Allein die zurückzulegenden Entfernungen im englischsprachigen Kosmos von edtech und openness sind verglichen mit denen im deutschsprachigen Kontext nicht zu vergleichen, umso wichtiger virtuelle Partizipation. Die Gründe, nicht zu einer Konferenz anreisen zu können, sind so vielfältig wie es die Konferenzen oft nicht sind, können familiär, budgetär, gesundheitlich oder persönlich sein. Trumps muslim ban spielt hier eine Rolle in den USA, das zeigen verschiedene Events in diesem Jahr.

Warum nun also Virtually Connecting bei einer deutschsprachigen Veranstaltung? Zunächst einmal würde ich auch hier alle Punkte gelten lassen, die auch für englischsprachige Konferenzen oder Tagungen machen würden. Virtually Connecting ermöglicht einen anderen Blick, eine andere Perspektive. Teilnehmende einer Konferenz haben ein Fenster nach außen während des laufenden Veranstaltung. Teilnehmende von außerhalb haben die Chance einen Blick hinter die Kulissen, hinter die tweets oder auch die Livestreams zu werfen. Gleichzeitig hat Virtually Connecting aber auch einige Kollateralnutzen. Es können globale Netzwerke entstehen. Durch Virtually Connecting habe ich Kontakt zu Menschen in Mexiko, Ägypten, Kanada, den USA, und vielen anderen Regionen. Sie arbeiten an ähnlichen Fragen wie ich und sich dazu auszutauschen, voneinander zu lernen, ist bei Virtually Connecting mehr als die bloße Worthülse.

Ein anderer Nutzen kann für die Organisatoren von Events in der Verbreitung des Events selbst liegen. Virtually Connecting ist unabhängig und hat keinerlei Finanzierung in irgendeiner Form, aber allein die Tatsache, dass diese Community Teil einer Tagung oder einer Konferenz ist, kann einen positiven Effekt auf die Wahrnehmung der Veranstaltung haben.

Ein sehr oft leidiges Thema von Konferenzen ist zum Beispiel auch die Tagungsdokumentation. Im Vergleich zu so manchem PDF Tagungsband kann es durchaus belebend sein, sich eine 20-minütige Unterhaltung von Beteiligten und Unbeteiligten anzusehen. Die Aufzeichnungen der Unterhaltungen bleiben schließlich im Netz, sind auffindbar. Oft sind sie Ausgangspunkte für Blog Posts der Teilnehmenden, die sich wiederum auf die Tagung beziehen. Virtually Connecting ist damit oft Katalysator von anderen Netzwerken.

Alle diese Punkte lassen sich problemlos auch auf deutschsprachige Events wie das OERcamp übertragen. Ein Argument aber kann aus meiner Sicht nicht schwer genug wiegen: in meinem Podcast, den ich mehr oder weniger regelmäßig mit Markus Deimann aufzeichne, versuche ich immer wieder Bezüge zwischen Entwicklungen im internationalen Kontext von open education und educational technology und dem, was in Deutschland so passiert, herzustellen. Mal ironisch, mal zynisch, mal mehr oder weniger sachlich wundere ich mich dort öfter darüber, dass deutschsprachige Projekte immer wieder diese Parallelen ignorieren. Mal hat das sicher einen guten Grund, oft aber bestimmt auch nicht. Vielleicht hat Virtually Connecting ja auch den Kollateralnutzen, dass dort Verbindungen entstehen, die dieser Beobachtung entgegenwirken.

Für mich persönlich ist Virtually Connecting jedenfalls immer ein Highlight jeder Konferenz, egal ob ich on-site oder online bin. Entsprechend steigt langsam die Vorfreude auf das OERcamp in Hamburg.

Fast vergessen: wer möchte, ist natürlich herzlich eingeladen bei uns vorbei zu schauen und mitzumachen. Virtuell geht das in den beiden geplanten sessions, vor Ort planen wir eine offene session um 17:45. Oder einfach Martina oder mich ansprechen.

Titelbild unter CC0 Lizenz von Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash

Conscious online learning design?

I am cross-posting something that I have written for the Towards Openness project. You can find the original post here on the Towards Openness page.

This post started as a message exchange with Kate Green. Kate and I decided to go beyond text messaging and write a blog post instead. Find her post here.

After #OER17 Kate and I started to talk about the next steps for our project Towards Openness. This is something that we do in our free time and I think we both see the value in that. We get to make of this whatever we find helpful for ourselves and for the community around ‘open’ and learning. But this lack of a pre-defined direction or goal can make some choices a bit harder. A very pragmatic example: find a tagline for the website. This is not too important to many. And I see their point when they say that a tagline, a font, or a color scheme is just polish. But especially a tagline will always be noted and perceived, consciously or unconsciously. It is included in link previews, it appears in all sorts of ways. We didn’t have a tagline until about a week ago. And I thought “let’s fill that gap”. I sensed that this might be an opportunity to think more closely about what we mean to do with Towards Openness, beyond a vision. A tagline should not be more than 6-7 words maximum and, by then, we had not tried to project our understanding of Towards Openness on half a sentence.

So I thought a bit about this and suggested “conversations for conscious online learning”. I sent it to Kate and quickly added “design” after I sent it, so that it read “conversations for conscious online learning design”. Kate asked what I meant by conscious, reminding me of the importance to try and dissect what we mean by the things we say. And here we go. We texted back and forth and concluded that this is worth a blog post. So here’s my shot at dissecting what I meant with that tagline:

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Public universities, management, expertise and trust

tl;dr: This post might turn into a rant but I hope it won’t. It serves as a valve for something I have been trying to say for quite a while now and I am not sure that I got all the nuances right. It is incomplete but I feel better now that it left my system.

During the last year, I have been working on a strategy for the small institution I work at. We had smaller and larger meetings with different stakeholders of our university. We had conversations with university leadership, external advisors and personal mentors, colleagues from other institutions whom we trusted. We worked on documents, agendas, and a vision. We worked to develop partnerships, we argued for budgets. It took time and effort but, in the end, we all were confident that we had found a goal worth working towards to, a feasible mode for operating without the implied understanding that our team members would have to work beyond their agreed-upon capacity. “No self-exploitation”, we said. A rare statement in academia these days. Partner organizations were prepared and looking forward to work with us, which is especially important for an institution that is part of a small to medium-sized university with limited budgets and experience. And the things that we would be working on were amazing, I haven’t been as enthusiastic about anything work-related for quite a while.  Continue reading →

Late first thoughts: #TowardsOpenness at #OER17

I am not sure why, but it took some serious licorice intake to overcome my inertia in order to write something reflecting the Towards Openness workshop I co-facilitated at #OER17. It might be that the impressions and ideas are hard to sort out, but you have to start somewhere. What this shows, though, is that we somehow seem to have hit a nerve. People I admire for their work have responded to the theme of safety in open online learning in ways that I would have never expected. We had provocateurs who took time and effort in coming up with mind-boggling provocations, we had fantastic onsite participants who came up with interventions to marvel at (find all resources on our website), Frances Bell and Jim Groom blogged about the workshop in retrospect, Bryan Mathers drew (Is that an accurate description of his magic?) a couple of images during and after the workshop. We had a Missed Conversation on Virtually Connecting with onsite participants, provocateurs and others who could not make it to our session (during which I accidentally set the frame to fixate on me, which only adds to the embarrassment of moderating an online session with people who are both smarter than me and are more eloquent conversationalists than I am). The twitter stream includes a wide range of educators. So this would be enough material, ideas and conversations to write plenty of posts about, which probably made it harder for me to start the first one.

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Holacracy to the rescue?

tl;dr: OER17 made me think about the way educational institutions, initiatives and networks operate. Holacracy came to mind and I try to evaluate its use for these kinds of structures.

As I pointed out before: OER17 has not come to an end yet. I keep on remembering conversations, re-reading session descriptions, browsing through project websites, and I still have to catch up on some blog posts.

One theme that continues to make an impression on me is that of ‘organization’. Jim Groom noted that this conference is not driven by vendors or , but by “the people who still have real skin in the game”. I agree with that and I think lots of these people are re-thinking the way they have been working, be it in individual projects driven by grants and project funding, be it as educators and researchers in educational institutions, as employees of some vendor, lobbyist group or association (or anything in between).

The idea of organizing ‘open’ seems strange and people smarter and more renowned than me have been trying to define and claim open education, specifically, over and over. However, organizations and the way they operate, the way they interact within and without, can be drifting or steered towards openness or towards closedness. A structure or an organization whose members try to do things in the open while the organization remains closed itself, will create tensions within and without of itself, which is why we included administration as a driver of openness in our OER16 workshop; see the Towards Openness page for some more details Continue reading →

OER17 has not ended yet

#OER17 does not feel like it has ended yet. Most of its attendees left the conference site last Thursday but you can still see vibrant activity on twitter, there are plenty of blog posts coming in and a work day (and then some) could easily pass by following these activities. I know from experience.

I talked about some of the sessions that resonated with me with Markus Deimann in our podcast (a record, we talked for over 2 hours) but I still have a couple more things to say or to expand on.  Continue reading →

Online Learning and Safety from a Position of Privilege?

tl;dr: I listened to a podcast and it triggered a possibly flawed comparison to safety in open learning. And because I will be on my way to facilitate a workshop at #OER17, I thought I should share my thoughts in a short blog post.

I listened to a recently repeated episode from 2002 of This American Life, one of the podcasts I regularly listen to. The episode is called “Testosterone” and you can find it here. One part of this podcast contains an interview that producer Alex Blumberg conducts with a transgender man, Griffin Hansbury. They talk about perceptions of gender and sexuality and the unique point of view that Griffin Hansbury has with regards to gender stereotypes. As a small example, he claimed that now, that he is seen by other men as competition, other men tend to veer towards him regularly as if they were marking their territory on the streets. Some of them even body check him. Walking down the street as a man opened a small new world to him that most other men have always been aware of.  Continue reading →

Podcasts I Listen to

Over the last couple of months and especially since I started to record my own podcast with Markus Deimann, I have found myself in conversations on recommended podcasts. Sometimes these conversations follow a certain theme (anything related to digital pedagogy or storytelling), sometimes certain episodes are recommended. Most of the podcasts I listen to are English but some are in German as well so I decided to list them here following that categorization as well (alphabetical order). Let me know what you would recommend and what I am missing.  Continue reading →

Dimensions of Openness, #OER17 and an old podcast episode

tl;dr: I tried to pin down some thoughts from a podcast we recorded a while back and slipped into a comparison of OpenEd scenes in Germany and the rest of the world, especially the UK and the US. I then pulled myself together and even managed to link to my own work that I presented at #OER16

In the middle of December 2015 Markus Deimann and I invited Martina Emke as a guest to our podcast (we record the Podcast in German as it is our native language). While Markus and I usually just ramble on about what has been happening in between recordings (a theme we copied pretty much from the early concept of the mostly fabulous TIDEPodcast), we aimed to focus the discussion a bit this time. At the bottom of this page, I embedded the podcast recording.

At the time of the recording, the OER17 conference committee were still reviewing the submissions and it became pretty clear that this will be an inspiring conference which will send its delegates home with new perspectives, ideas and experiences on everything open in education. After last year’s OER16 which was themed around Open Culture, OER17 now tackles important questions around the Politics of Open. As many have noted before me, a theme that could not come with better timing.

Also, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research had just launched a program aiming to foster and facilitate production and use of OER in the German educational landscape. In short, a project called OERInfo is supposed to make OER in Germany more visible to educators and other stakeholders while a decentralised effort to qualify educators is undertaken within educational institutions. Leuphana University, where I am employed, is part of a joint project with two other German universities that combines an approach of Service Learning with the use of OER. This program by the ministry is very much focused on content as well as training of staff. More far-reaching concepts like pedagogy, connectedness, a shift of dynamics in the teacher-student relationship or learning in networks find only little, if any mention in this program. I think you can safely say that most experts and initiatives in Germany are content-driven, while also considering licensing and infrastructure to host and disseminate the content. Continue reading →

Different Contexts of Open Licensing

tl;dr: I worked with students and refugees on questions around licensing and copyright and they perceived ‘open’ to be default. We also talked about different contexts of open, motivations and risks.

It has been a while since I last updated this space. With the beginning of the new year, I caught a persistent flu and I have been quite busy catching up on the things I missed because of that downtime. So I started the year a bit later than most others and one of my first gigs back from bed in the real world was a short workshop on copyright and open licensing with refugees and students at the University of Hamburg.

I have been working with this group for the whole semester now. We talked about storytelling, about narratives and about privacy among many other things. As we approach the end of the semester and some of them will publish their work online, I did not want to miss the chance to introduce them to some basic principles and ideas around copyright. Continue reading →