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 →

A call to action and the dark side of publishing

Darth Vader, Library Page

tl;dr: I published a call to action in the Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory and I provide some additional context and thoughts.

In the early summer of 2016, Markus Deimann asked me whether I would consider to author a contribution to the Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, a Springer Publication. Three thoughts almost immediately struck me as odd. For one thing, I never really thought about publishing anything academically. I hold a Bachelor of Science, a degree many ‘serious academics’ don’t take too seriously. Many people I talk to wonder how I can work at a university although I only hold a B.Sc., some simply assume that I have a PhD for some reason. I was invited to conferences and workshops because people held that belief and most of them then try to re-negotiate conditions like a reduced rate when they find out that they were mislead to assume that I have academic credentials. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to write an article for an encyclopedia (thanks again for the opportunity, Markus). More importantly, maybe, I never found much joy in writing papers – never understood how people could love doing this. This might change, you never know. If you take a look at the list of authors for this publication, you will see that all of them are achieved academics who have a serious track record in science and research. To be included in that list is an honor and it seems weird.

My most immediate thought, however, was this: I never considered writing something for a publication administered by one of the large science publishers who would then own the copyright and lock my thoughts and ideas behind a paywall. Continue reading →

Giving to causes I care about – edition 2016

tl;dr: I give to organizations, causes and people I care about because it makes me sleep better. And because this is a crucial time to do so.

I am not going into too many details what the year of 2016  lots of people I care about and work with. John Oliver already did a great job. The global rise of ‘alt-right’ racist and fascist movements, a new level of hate speech online (or at least a new level of awareness of it among people who look like me), the proclaimed age of post-truth. All of these developments have made the people I follow in the realm of open and online education question both their strategies of coping and teaching but also their approaches to openness and safety in online education. Continue reading →

Quick Note on Storytelling, Security and Privacy

In a post from Nov 17, I tried to give an update on what happened after my Ignite Talk at #2016DML. As I mentioned then, I joined Cornelia and Anna to co-facilitate a small group of students and refugees who started working on storytelling in teams of German students and refugees. Over the last couple of weeks, teams and tandems were formed and some were split up again. Usually, this happened when some of the refugees could not attend the class anymore for various reasons: some moved, one found a job, one decided to attend more German language classes. Continue reading →