Bonnie has an expression that she used to use talking about a zone that I used to get into more than I do now. ‘public dave’. Public dave is a bit of a machine I’m afraid. There is no conversation that he does not want to be involved in, no thing is beyond his desire to know or hear about it and no situation exists for which he does not want to tell a story. This is what happened at Open Ed. I arrived in full twitch and managed to control my enthusiasm only slightly. It was a silly amount of fun… I learned a great deal, had some great discussions with folks, and had a chance to meet new and confirm new/old friendships. For those forced to sit next to me, I admire your patience.
A bit about how I navigated the conference.
I must confess, I did not make many presentations. I probably saw 6 or 7 presentations over 3 days. I took the executive decision early on that as things were going to be recorded and posted, I could spend more of my time getting to know people and pick up the stuff that I missed on ustream when I get home. The first thing that struck me was just how much I liked the people there. It is not surprising that when you are at an ‘open’ conference with people who are committed to openness, that they will be welcoming. And they were. The first night was like watching my twitter account talk. The taunting started almost immediately, and while I think @sleslie (who is a gem of a human being) took more than his share, there was enough to go around for everyone… big fun.
I had the great pleasure of having a bunch of debates with David Wiley at the conference. One of the more lengthy and interesting was our discussion of my concern about copyright. The problem that I have with Creative Commons is that in ‘giving away’ content I am first calling myself the creator under the Burne copyright guidelines. I wont replicate David’s excellent recap of this on his site, but his ideas of declaring a personal exemption from burne is very compelling.
The bureaucratization of openness.
An underground thread through the conference was the problems of having piles of money of having to put rigid guidelines on things that are open. I have a very clear image of Jim looking at me just as I was leaving and saying ‘we can just put that stuff somewhere else, there’s just too much overhead’. I have a very strong sympathy for this position. Giant amounts of money are nice and everything, but they are rarely elegant. I have great hopes for athabasca’s new funding but I prefer things like the find an oer Africa project. No money. No investment. Hoping to have more time to talk to Jim and company about this. As ‘open’ goes mainstream, stewardship becomes more important than ever.
Had a fun discussion with Brandon Muramatsu from MIT. He has a remarkable position at the university and in charge to finding ways to scale or work on the permanence of projects that are being done in the university. I’ve always been interested by how well an individual project can be generalized and what the processes are that would support this. Brandon intimated that a broad approach to this is probably unlikely and comes down to people looking at individual situations and going step by step with every context. He’s six months into his job, will be checking in with him to see if they discover any secrets to this.
An educational/library company from England has decided to donate it’s marketing budget to opened projects. How cool is that? They are going to be taking in applications (due dec. 31) and offering people money to do specific projects that are going to be of benefit to the open community. The guidelines are pretty broad, and there’s not a crazy amount of money (maybe 100K) total, but it’s a real chance to get that 1500 that someone wanted for a small project. According to Chris something like 25K is possible, but it would mean not funding a bunch of other projects, so it would have to justify that.
Meaning is in Use – OER as dictionary of our time
I think I could talk to Chris Lott (check out his awesome photo jigger from the conference) for a month. One of the things we talked about was a mutual passion of ours, Wittgenstein. I quoted him in the middle of my presentation claiming that as we could do a lot with live tags and quotes and such (similar to my presentation last may for the webheads) that you could actually show ‘use’ and therefore ‘meaning’ of words by crowdsourcing and live streaming usages. It’s an appealing move as it allows us to replace the tired conversations about static definitions and allows us dynamic definitions that would better approximate what we really mean by words. It’s dirty. But I like dirty.
Flash mob conferencing
Another dude I met for the first time this weekend is Cole Camplese. What a dude. We had a bit of a time at the railway bar and over some restorative beverages, we discussed, amongst other things, the possibility of getting a half dozen canadians on the road to come and do ‘things’ at a given university. His point was that it cost as much for him to bring 5 of his people to vancouver as it would cost to bring 6 of us to his university. Sounds like fun… I hope they have enough maple syrop.
Speaking of dudes
I met quite a few legends of the community this weekend, none more ‘dude’ than the reverend Jimbo Groom. Funny thing about Jim, he and Brian Lamb had some discussions about the word ‘edupunk’ a couple of years ago and as the fastcompany article came out just before the conference, I got an email from my boss indicating that I might want to look into this while within eyesight of both of them and Wiley, also mentioned in the article. I confirmed with her that finding this out might not be too hard 😛 Another of the people that I could spend piles of time talking with.
The preconference day saw the 6 hour marathon discussion between Stephen Downes and David Wiley. Of the several interesting things that came out of what was essentially a public viewing of a private conversation, was the idea that people could directly appeal for a degree to someone who could judge their competency (Stephen’s idea… what else could we do for $189,000 it costs for an MIT undergrad). Think of it as ‘uber-plar’. You’re not challenging for a course, your challenging for a degree. It’s a fun thought experiment that forces us to think about what those 3-4 years are really about. If they are just about ‘knowing stuff’ and not also about stuff like ‘learning how to focus and work towards a goal over four years’ then why not? Interesting.
Was talking to George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger (and Konrad) about the possibility of giving recognition to people at edtechtalk for PD for participating in the community. I keep coming back to this as an idea that would be very interesting to try. I know that people feel like they are learning, and they are getting the chance for a long term support community by using ETT… seems like it should make sense.
Everyone who put on the conference. D’arcy Norman for giving me ideas for my server (and making me laugh). Catherine Ngugi for being so trusting. All the great questions in my session. The good people at the indian restaurant. Everyone who kept finding my water bottle for me. Alec for the great ideas in the airport. Doug for making it out to say hi. David for being so open and interesting. Giota for telling me about the cool stuff she’s doing for OU. The grandville island beverage company. All the people I’m forgetting to thank and include here… I know i’ll remember as soon as I hit ‘post’.
Is not what I’m doing with this… even though it might look that way. Open education is not about content, as I suggested in my presentation the OER part of open education is the foundation that we are standing on, its the common language that we are working from but THE PEOPLE are what make this community. Going to this conference and thinking with these people is a privilege I wish on everyone. As @injenuity intimated in many ways, having people who are doing what you’re doing, and who you can trust with your ideas, is a very grounding, peaceful thing.