Workshop at #OEB16: safety in online learning?

Image by Matthew Henry via unsplash under a CC Zero license


On Dec 1,2016, I facilitatied an 'Interactive Breakout Session' with Kate Green at #OEB16. While I was onsite, Kate was online to facilitate conversations and interaction on Twitter under the Hashtag #TowardsOpenness. Here's our workshop description:

‘Towards Openness - how can we be safe in online learning?’ is designed as a collaborative session where you are invited to consider the opportunities and risks of open online teaching and learning based on thoughts and provocations that revolve around openness, ownership, digital identity, privacy and security.

This session will take place both in the room at OEB16 and on Twitter. We will together facilitate and curate these, with the aim of collecting critical evidence-driven conversations that deal with topics and issues around openness, the goal being to bring forward substantial evidence to provide policy-makers and changers of differing levels to support openness and ownership and to provide the resources needed to enable rich, safe and ethical learning for 21st century learners. 

Structure of our Session

Kate Green: What does online safety look like for learners? 

What is Towards Openness  and why is it part of this session?

Provocations: Maha Bali, Robin DeRosa, Kate Green, Nishant Shah

Audience: Identify Stakeholders, frame your conversations to directly approach them.

Design: Come up with an intervention, an agenda, a manifesto or a set of principles.

Presentation and Feedback: Present your ideas to the rest of us in 1 minute.

Virtually Connecting: Join conference delegates and online participants in a Virtually Connecting session.

Intro by Kate Green

Kate Green addresses key issues and questions around openness, security and safety in education in this short video. She will be online during our session here at #OEB16. Get in touch with her using #TowardsOpenness on twitter, her twitter handle is @KateGreen28. In her Intro, Kate briefly touches upon transparency, accessibility, equity, the individual and collectives, the public, control, freedom, pervasive technologies, intrinsic values, safety and privacy.

OEB16 - Towards Openness from Kate Green on Vimeo.    

Picture by David Marcu via unsplash under a CC Zero license

Towards Openness

Towards Openness is a research driven knowledge base that seeks to provoke conversations and to advise decision makers towards building social and technological infrastructure for connected learning. In pursuit of Towards Openness’ vision, there are three activity strands that:

  • curate research practices and learnings invested in building connected open learning infrastructure at global, regional, national, and local level to make it accessible and relevant to connected learning actors (knowledge production and accessibility)
  • initiate need-based interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder, original research conversations to build new priorities and agenda for connected learning through distributed and collaborative research (agenda setting)
  • translate and mediate different research learnings for decision makers and those who work at advising and influencing them in open and transparent consultations and workshops (educational material)

We prepared an Etherpad where you can comment, edit and contribute to the idea of Towards Openness.

Picture by Alex Harvey via unsplash under a CC Zero license


Four Provocations around Ownership, Privacy and Safety in Online Learning.

Safety and openness are both seemingly subjective terms and so we thought that it would be appropriate to ask others from around the world with different concerns to prepare short statements on the issues and concerns that they face. The provocateurs are Maha Bali, Robin DeRosa, Nishant Shah and Kate Green.

Maha Bali Robin DeRosa Kate Green Nishant Shah

Maha Bali

Robin DeRosa

Kate Green

Nishant Shah

Picture by Mike Erskine via unsplash under a CC Zero license

Campfire Materials

Discuss your thoughts and reflections of the provocations in groups of 4-6 delegates (onsite) or on Twitter. We have prepared multimodal ‘campfire’ materials as ‘ignition starters’ for our conversations, feel free to use them and add to them. Some of them can be found here on this page but you will find many more on the Etherpad (add some yourself if you like). As a next step, we will ask you to consider a certain group of stakeholders in online learning and teaching, so please feel free to make this a focussed discussion with a certain group of people in mind. Also, you might want to chose a specific topic that you want to focus on:

  • learning analytics
  • big data in education
  • open pedagogy  and open content
  • ownership and infrastructure
  • anything related to ownership, safety or privacy in learning goes!

Included here is a brief collection of tweets and gifs, please follow the link to the Etherpad to find more materials and add some yourself if you like.

Picture by Rob Bye via unsplash under a CC Zero license


Organise and phrase your collective thoughts to communicate with a certain group of stakeholders. These stakeholders can be parents, learners, educators, policy-makers, EdTech startups or university leaders and, of course, students and learners. Document your thoughts and statements in the Campfire Etherpad and/or on Twitter using #TowardsOpenness.

Picture by Alice Achterhof via unsplash under a CC Zero license


With a specific topic or field as well as a certain stakeholder group in mind, design an intervention, an agenda or a set of principles. This intervention can be both a tool used by this group or something that is directed at this group. With this intervention, you could just make a brief but important point or actually consider applicability to your topic or field of choice. A short list of examples (that you are not at all limited to):

  • agendas or constituting documents like a manifesto
  • [digital] artefacts of any type
  • a social media campaign
  • phantastical prototypes (rapid feminist prototyping*)

* Rapid Feminist Prototyping draws from conversations in the Feminist Technology Network (FemTechNet) that suggest that rapid prototyping can accommodate new kinds of voices, experiences, ideas and ambitions that go beyond the utilitarian prototype development cycles.


Present your idea/prototype/intervention to the larger group. Record and share your presentation on Twitter using the Hashtag #TowardsOpenness (1 minute max.). Give your idea / prototype / intervention a name!

Two working groups kindly agreed to be recorded while presenting their results at the end of our session. Here's the video of the wonderful Inge deWaard presenting the work of herself, Luca Morini, Jeanine Reutemann and Christian Glahn (apologies, I didn't catch the name of the fifth team member):

 Here's the video of the second working group. I am bad at remembering names, apologies again.  



After our workshop, Inge Ignatia de Waard published a very kind blog post on her workshop experience at OEB16, you can find it here.

We're Virtually Connecting

On Dec 1 at 6pm (CET), we will invite delegates at OEB as well as online participants of “Towards Openness” to join a Virtually Connecting session. Think of VirtuallyConnecting as a typical hallway conversation at a conference, which happens on Youtube live to include others as well. Please do join the conversation if you have the time!

I wrote two short blog posts on the idea of Virtually Connecting in general and specifically at OEB16. Maha Bali, who - among many amazing things  - is co-founder of Virtually Connecting, picked them up and published them as a merged guest post on their site.