Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Open and Connected Teaching and Learning in a paragraph.

Here's a task:  Please sum up Open and Connected Learning in a paragraph for instructors entirely new to the concept.
Open as in openly accessible (free-speech),  open to improvement (in beta) and open to being shared.

Connected refers to both our on and offline communities and acknowledges that we are part of their fabric.

'Teaching Openly' means we can both draw on our communities as a resource and when we need to, leverage their influence, however these relationships are collaborative, not dictatorial. Its essential that the communities are intrinsically motivated by being a valued part of the process, rather than a patronised consumer of a product.
In practical terms this means making those 'learning moments', outward facing (there's a raft of different ways we can do this) and understanding that for most people these moments will be their 'touch-points' .  The degree to which you engage them in these there, will directly effect your ability to draw on them in turn.

This was a #fail - too abstract - any thoughts?

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Heading back from DML Research Hub UC Irvine having taken part in the #ReclaimOpen event - there's a whole bunch of talks and amazing people to listen to and follow if you truck on over to the site

Thursday, 27 June 2013

NTF National Teaching Fellowship Award

A lovely endorsement for the Connected Classes Phonar and Picbod today by the Higher Education Academy :
"National Teaching Fellowships represent the most prestigious awards for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning. Successful National Teaching Fellows (NTFs) are chosen from nominations submitted by higher education institutions across England, Northern Ireland and Wales."

Next up:
  Matt Johnston with Picbod2012 and the PhotoBookClub
  Pete Woodbridge with his Creative Activism

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Who are @RawFmt ?

"With a foreword to the exhibition by Jon Levy, these guys mean business. There seemed to be a really good understanding of what makes their work appealing to buyers and picture editors. You know that old chestnut of making a living out of photography.
I actually taught these students towards the end of their first year, but I didn’t recognise them. That is to say I hadn’t grasped just how much they’d progressed in the two years since I last met them."

Lovely and well deserved (I may be a little biased) piece on what was #phonar2012 but blossomed into Raw Format - it's over on Photo Editor Tom Broadbent's blog.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Looking for some specialist "unknown" open collaborators. Know any?

Earlier in the year I was one of a bunch of people invited to MIT's Media Lab to hack post-MOOC open ideas and models. It was good, I've never sat in a room full of people like that. It was also terrifying - I've never sat in a room full of people like that, but the most valuable thing I came away with was a list of questions. Not questions from me but questions that others people asked. These were questions I didn't even know could be questions - they were "unknown unknowns" and together they mapped out the enormous sink-holes in my knowledge.

I came away knowing that API's are of crucial importance to my understanding of what Open and Connected are and need to be, but not exactly what an API is. And I needed to know why @kinlane calls himself an API evangelist. I needed to know how github works and if opensource could translate out of coding and into teaching and learning models. Would the "forking" ethos work when designing a course or platform - and beyond, what about journalism? Could one scrape and visualise a bunch of event-specific information then curate, edit, collaborate, corroborate - even fork the story/stories? Would people buy into that level of mediation?

"oh, you mean like Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey?"

"I've heard of them, do they do non-linear multi-perspective storytelling?"


And why is Jim Groom so uptight about people owning their own domain? More importantly why did that bring everyone in the room together? And why did everyone nod when Audrey Watters segued into the funding-life of MOOCs and their relation to how open they start out versus how open then end up - leading (obviously) to the consequences for participants who's data is inevitably atomised across a bunch of online ("free") start-ups (not limited to educational) whose nebulous terms of service mean owning your own domain has to be a digital keystone.

So here's the thing: I don't fully understand that last paragraph even though they were my words and after three months of trying I still can't scrape data, fork from a repo in Github, explain APIs or speak MOOC legalese. I do however know where those unknowns need to fit and I do have a big picture in mind but I can't build them in without the help of other experts, who I trust will point out more as yet unknown unknowns.

I want to write a photography (applied visual literacy/storytelling) undergraduate degree that builds on the blended approaches of phonar and picbod. It needs to be open over the three years (not just two ten-week classes), and enable different approaches to Open Teaching and Learning throughout. The framework also needs to be modular - like lego, so it can be retro-fitted to high school/college and lower, adapted/adopted/remixed/improved on - in short evolve Openly.

I already have a bunch of discipline specific content and trans-discipline approaches to build on openly (I use X-mind to map out my ideas and google docs to write)- all of which will be licensed CC-BY and my hope is that the attribution string won't be limited to just me - I guess I'm asking for help from some "unknown" co-authors/collaborators - know any?

Projects mentioned and linked to here:
Domain of One's Own http://umwdomains.com/#about
Reclaim Open http://open.media.mit.edu/
Reclaim Your Domain http://reclaimyourdomain.org/
Photography and Narrative (phonar) http://phonar.org
Picturing the Body (picbod) http://picbod.org

Friday, 31 May 2013

phubu RawFormat opening night!

It's opening night of the phubu Rawformat exhibition and Jon Levy says it better than I can.

"These guys are amazing, they have amazed me and they have taught me too, even as I was tasked to teach them. Isn't that the best teaching after all though, where the street goes both ways and the teacher is stretched to engage with his students as he asks them to broaden their own horizons. 
I have been excited and emboldened by the passion and variety of views that the students each have put into their work. and I have been constantly impressed and reassured of the undimmed light of photography in their hands. From traditional story projects to unbelievable design and new concepts for visualising and seeing our world, the students have each pushed the boundaries of what photography can do and what they wish to say with their work. In the weeks that I spent talking with each of them and viewing their work I have got to know their aspirations and been privileged to see their methods in progress but above all I have been revitalised by their ingenuity, talent and the force of their achievements. 
This is not a class of photography students, this is, in each and every one of them, the future of photography: taking what has been done before and ,with respect and humility, forging a path to new image making and new ways of telling their own stories as well as those of their subjects. It is testament to their success that across all disciplines of photography they have brought me, their editor and their reader, along on the journey and their work has touched me as only great photography can."
Jon Levy, Founder and Director of FOTO8
May 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Back to the #Phubu - Notes on an open class

I'm going to noodle some stuff down here about my new class whilst it's fresh in my head. Maybe I'll update it or reflect on it at the end, but as I'm doing something new (for me) I'm going to make notes on what I'm doing and why.

When I wrote Picbod and Phonar the mode of delivery embodied the issues they were dealing with (Photography like Education is going through a paradigm shift). Picbod was about the artefact and the generative experience, Phonar was about the audience and the role of the author.  So Open was just - appropriate - because open/connected/digital is driving these changes .

This year I got bumped into another class and the expectation (from students and the institution) is that it too will run openly. But unlike picbod and phonar this class has a predefined destination (it's a final year class ending in a final degree exhibition), in other words it starts with an answer rather than a question and that answer is "an exhibition".

In lots of ways this must be a common story; unforeseen staff changes mean someone drops in to cover someone else's class - it's unfamiliar material but with a little extra work the teacher can re-orientate themselves and quickly get up to speed.

But this seems very different. I have to work out how and where an open and connected classroom can be appropriate mode of delivery for any class.

Week 1:
I started out by asking the students to think about what form this Open class would take and (given that I would have to recruit another member of staff), who they wanted to deliver it.

The answers were:
  • Individual and small group tutorials (vs lecture program). 
  • Personal tasks pertinent to the individual's Final Major Project (vs group tasks).
  • A speaker program (online and/or onsite).
  • Mentors (online and/or onsite).
I did tutorials f2f in class for the rest of the session then online "hangouts" in the evenings for overspill.

Q's (to the students)

If the class is going to run as a kind of open workshop - then we need an online "pin-board" where I can post resources and relevant content to people whose projects overlap and for cross fertilization. Needs to be pre-existing architecture (no sys admin here), robust, secure, free to access and free to use. Needs to be searchable and able to handle multimedia content. Preferably it will have an existing audience/community and we must be able to "port" existing open-participants across  - perhaps something like tumblr?

Answer (from class)
Google+ Community.

Q (to the students) What's the class called? Name should draw on existing phonar/picbod brand-familiarity but delineate this class as different - something like #PhFubu (Phonar For US By Us)

#Phubu in collaboration with Raw Format (the final degree show title)

Week 2:
Groups of four taking turns to pitch their project ideas and then brainstorm around developing those ideas.
New Groups - repeat process.
New Groups - pitch idea followed by brainstorming all the possible audiences for their projects.
Watch interview below - then read blog post excerpt.

"I wrote to Aaron for help with Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother to get his ideas on a next-generation electioneering tool that could be used by committed, passionate candidates who didn't want to end up beholden to monied interests and power-brokers. Here's what he wrote back:
First he decides to take over the whole California Senate, so he can do things at scale. He finds a friend in each Senate district to run and plugs them into a web app he's made for managing their campaigns. It has a database of all the local reporters, so there's lots of local coverage for each of their campaign announcements.
Then it's just a vote-finding machine. First it goes through your contacts list (via Facebook, twitter, IM, email, etc.) and lets you go down the list and try to recruit everyone to be a supporter. Every supporter is then asked to do the same thing with their contacts list. Once it's done people you know, it has you go after local activists who are likely to be supportive. Once all those people are recruited, it does donors (grabbing the local campaign donor records). And then it moves on to voters and people you could register to vote. All the while, it's doing massive A/B testing to optimize talking points for all these things. So as more calls are made and more supporters are recruited, it just keeps getting better and better at figuring out what will persuade people to volunteer. Plus the whole thing is built into a larger game/karma/points thing that makes it utterly addictive, with you always trying to stay one step ahead of your friends.
Meanwhile GIS software that knows where every voter is is calculating the optimal places to hold events around the district. The press database is blasting them out -- and the press is coming, because they're actually fun. Instead of sober speeches about random words, they're much more like standup or the Daily Show -- full of great, witty soundbites that work perfectly in an evening newscast or a newspaper story. And because they're so entertaining and always a little different, they bring quite a following; they become events. And a big part of all of them getting the people there to pull out their smartphones and actually do some recruiting in the app, getting more people hooked on the game.
He doesn't talk like a politician -- he knows you're sick of politicians spouting lies and politicians complaining about politicians spouting lies and the whole damn thing. He admits up front you don't trust a word he says -- and you shouldn't! But here's the difference: he's not in the pocket of the big corporations. And you know how you can tell? Because each week he brings out a new whistleblower to tell a story about how a big corporation has mistreated its workers or the environment or its customers -- just the kind of thing the current corruption in Sacramento is trying to cover up and that only he is going to fix.
(Obviously shades of Sinclair here...)
also you have to read http://books.theinfo.org/go/B005HE8ED4
For his TV ads, his volunteer base all take a stab at making an ad for him and the program automatically A/B tests them by asking people in the district to review a new TV show. The ads are then inserted into the commercial breaks and at the end of the show, when you ask the user how they liked it, you also sneak in some political questions. Web ads are tested by getting people to click on ads for a free personality test and then giving them a personality test with your political ad along the side and asking them some political questions. (Ever see ads for a free personality test? That's what they really are. Everybody turns out to have the personality of a sparkle fish, which is nice and pleasant except when it meets someone it doesn't like, ...) Since it's random, whichever group scores closest to you on the political questions must be most affected by the ad. Then they're bought at what research shows to be the optimal time before the election, with careful selection of television show to maximize the appropriate voter demographics based on Nielsen data.
anyway, i could go on, but i should actually take a break and do some of this... hope you're well
This was so perfect that I basically ran it verbatim in the book. Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues." (http://boingboing.net/2013/01/12/rip-aaron-swartz.html)

For next week - look at all of the audiences of the entire class and build crossover groups.

Introduced Mentor number one - Graham Macindoe - (interview hadn't been outputted as I'd only done the interview the night before and so they had to watch an unedited version in class - meant that the tweeted notes and comments couldn't draw on a synchronous live online audience). NY- GMT time difference means Graham can't be live on the Wednesday morning session (this class is Wednesdays 09:00-13:00) - need class to resolve this.

Secured two more mentors - one with experience running his own magazine and gallery, one working in editorial magazine and advertising industry - both London based, both with active social media communities / presences.

Approached an assistant working with 'A' list fashion photographers to do some behind the scenes interviews and technical workshops - need confirmation - this will have to be anonymous but am thinking it could be a serialized feature of the class - a hook.