My dream of an open course – Bob Dylan MOOC

As people have become fond of mentioning, i have alot going on right now… and don’t have the time to take on another project. But I have a project in my head that i’d really, really like to try. I want to do a bob dylan open course.

My feelings about how knowledge gets created are strewn all around this blog, so i wont torture you with it. Suffice it to say that i think curriculum can come from membership in a network.

What i’d like to do is have an open course that ran for a period of time (in order to get people places, i think ‘eventedness’ is an important part of learning) lets say 12 weeks. Each week would have a theme, maybe we would wander through the different incarnations of dylan following along with the I’m not there film. Maybe through different concepts that keep recurring.

But imagine what this means about learning. It means that people with common interests come together to ‘learn’ stuff, consciously. You’d have some people who were new to dylan, looking for a way into understanding what all the fuss is about. Other folks who maybe have heard the canon and think maybe they’d like a little more. And then some other folks who might be a bit more engaged with the lyrics, the style… whatever.

A learning ‘community’ (i use this word lightly in this instance) with no other purpose but to come together and learn about something. No financial attachment, no credit, no asessment.


Yes… so. The so is about scale. Think about this as 2000 people who came together to learn about dylan. Think about how these things get routed, how subsets get formed, how people splinter, other communities form that then go on existing passed the actual event.

I think the idea is really exciting… and I want to try it sometime. Just as a landscape to discuss how learning can happen if nothing else… not to mention all the great tunes.

Community Supported Agriculture – part 3: getting going is ready for early adopters.

I’d really love to have some people dig in and tell me what they like and don’t like so we can make this better. The big thing that is missing is the different farms. The data entry is a bit of a big job, but it’ll come. I promise that I’ll go back and fix whatever goes in now when the farms are there.

I’ve had some really great feedback and some good chats about this in the last few days. CSA people from around north america have been in contact, I’ve talked to various interest groups and have developed a sketch of the website.

I’d love to have a few people go there and give me their feedback. I know it’s impossible to say “don’t worry about the colours and the way it looks” but, take it for granted that those are things that are easily changed. I’m interested in how the little bit of functionality that is there works for you.

Off Island (and on Island folks)
1. Is there too much there already?
2. Is there something that is obviously missing?
3. Does this idea make sense to you?

On Island people looking for local food
1. register. Subscribe to one or two things. (right now you can subscribe to new ‘farms’ that are added and/or new stories told.)
2. Send feedback in the contact form on the site

3. Don’t register, and leave feedback here.

On Island people with a local food story.
1. register. Try posting a local food story
2. Come back here and let me know how it went
3. leave feedback on the site using the Contact Us link

Interested Farmers
1. Email me. I’ll give you all the instructions you need to get started.

What I”m looking for in all of this
1. I want my kids to have a connection to the food they eat.
2. I want to be able to do this easier than I am now
3. I’d like to see if this kind of community can work using the method that is being used here.

Community Supported Agriculture on PEI

Had an excellent meeting with two different representatives from the province regarding the social networking plan for farmers. The upshot of it was that we’re going to give this a try. I’ll sketch out the plan as it stands right now and, after some time for feedback, will hopefully have things ready to get going mid-next week.

I don’t mean to be secretive, but I think we may be on to something here and don’t want to ruin it by talking out of turn. So far, I’m still working pro bono, and will advise folks if that stops and i have some kind of contract. Not that it should matter…

Phase 1
We’re going to be asking the people who are currently buying from farmers (or would like to start)to do two things. We’re going to ask them to

1. register over at (I’ll be posting instructions on how to do this next week… stay tuned)

and then we’re going to ask them to

2. contribute their story buying locally here on the island. (I’ll be posting instructions on how to do this next week… stay tuned)

Pictures are good, video is good, but any story that talks about who where the farmer was, what the experience was like, what it tasted like… anything. We’re trying to accomplish three things.

it’s normal, it’s easy and it’s good to buy local

I want a list of people who are interested in finding out where the good local food is WHEN it is ready. Once the system is ready you’ll be able to either get ALL messages of ‘food is ready to come be picked up, bought or picked’ or be able to subscribe to certain kinds of food or certain producers.

I also want to get a group of people together to prove to the local farmers that we are here. So far, the people I’ve talked to think this is a really exciting idea. I’d like to get those people together so that when i meet with farmers i can say “look, these people want your product, and they want to buy locally”.

Phase 2
I’m hoping to approach the fall season farmers (lets say apple or pumpkin) as a test case for trying out the system. We would have the apple farmers, for instance, posting when different apples were ready and when picking was ready to start. Nice simple test case, and hopefully will generate more good news stories as like phase 1. I’m particularly interested in trying to track connections between people being notified and actually going to the farms.

Phase 3
Education and role out. With the lessons learned from our first two phases, i’d like to develop a training system to get farmers up to speed (even though i hope to be able to provide a pretty simple system, at this point i’m willing to sacrifice some functionality for simplicity) There are a number of people making positive investment noises. There are connections to rural development, the local tech community, training and the agriculture communities…. All VERY early days at this point, but i’ve heard very few negative noises at this point.

I’d originally intended to try and torture farmers to get involved now, but it was suggested (and i should have thought of this) that it’s not really fair for them to use their VERY limited time this time of the season for this when we can’t guarantee immediate results. That doesn’t mean we don’t want you if you are a farmer. You can leave a message here or send me an email through the email button on the top right hand corner of this page if you are interested in being more involved sooner.

An open letter to farmers wanting to sell me stuff grown on PEI

note after the fact: this exists. It is static, but contains lots of information.

My name is dave. If you are a farmer on this island, odds are I don’t know you. I’m the web projects lead at UPEI and a social media consultant in Charlottetown. I didn’t grow up on the island and, while i’ve been here 4 years I’ve still not done a particularly great job getting to know the people who grow food here on Prince Edward Island. (i grew up in norther new brunswick) I’ve bought fresh eggs from one farmer, been to an apple orchard a few times, and am currently in the process of trying to go out an strawberry pick. I have a share in a cow currently being raised by a friend in his yard in NS.

I want to have a connection to the food i eat. I want my kids to understand that food comes from somewhere, and really like the health, taste and environmental advantages of buying local food that grows here on the island. We called around today, after looking at a bunch of websites (and i talked to people at the farm fairs last year who assured me that there were “lots of opportunities” to buy fresh food, but had no system other than ‘call whozit who has lettuce early). Some people told us that strawberries picking was starting monday, some said later next week, some told us our information was outdated and one nice lady called us back today and said “we don’t even grow strawberries, i don’t know where you got that idea”.

This is not going to work. I need a simple, one stop place to go to get this information, and I need to not have to call twenty people to find strawberries that aren’t shipped in from who knows where. Same goes for everything else grown on the island. This is not very hard to do. You can do this. I can help, advise, or send you to others who can help you do this. Consider this as my commitment paid or unpaid to be part of a solution for this.

Here’s what i think we need for a Farm 2 Plate website. (in broad terms, think about a page like but for farming products on PEI)

  1. We need a website that you yourselves can update with times and products that are available. I currently have a few hundred people doing this at the university… you can learn how, and we can teach you how.
  2. We need a back up person committed to answering phone calls from people who are having trouble. Someone who will teach first but, most importantly, ensure that the information is posted.
  3. We need an automatic way of updating people from around the island when a new ‘availability’ has been posted. This is also not hard. People would be able to subscribe to this website like they would to a newspaper, except they would get the update by email or other means as soon as you put it on the website.
  4. People would need to accept that their product and the ‘client experience’ would be rated. Ratings are critical to success. We need to spread the good news and encourage others to do a little better.

There are a few technical details around this, we would need to decide what the ‘categories’ of food were, and how the content would get spread out. This is also not that difficult. It would require some cooperation, and someone in a position to make decisions, but it’s very easy to change this stuff on the fly. We could do it this way for this season and then talk about it over the winter when the timelines weren’t so short.

And that’s the thing. We could the earliest version of this running by next week. It would need to be worked on, adjusted and, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, weeded, but that’s not a problem either. It’s an organic process and there will be disagreements and frustrations, but i think this is important, and, as you will be in charge of your own content, you can make sure that things look the way you want them to.

I don’t know where we go from here. I would like to hear if you are interested, and how we can go about doing this. It may be that we talk to the government, or some other organization… i don’t know… but i do know that this is possible.

If you are out there and have done or are doing this… let me know about it. If i can help, great. If that help is just telling people about it… that’s great too.

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