Community as Curriculum and Open Learning

wow… sometimes the different threads of work that you are doing converge into the same place… it does make me wonder if they aren’t all just reflections of the same thing. anyways

Over the last few months i’ve been focusing much more on the idea of open learning and finding a practical foundation for my rhizomatic education and community as curriculum models. I’ve been lucky enough to work with George Siemens on a couple of projects, including the Edfutures course. When this is combined with my realization at Northern Voice that the entirety of my critique of knowledge and learning hinged on the tyranny of the moment… well… I decided to start writing a book. Which I’m doing.

As part of that process, I’m going to try and clean out the different ideas that I have, to explore them deeper and try to make them more transparent. The following video is my first attempt at drawing the threads together between open learning and community as curriculum… the method of learning with the way that we decide on what we learn. In it… you’ll see some books turn into people… this is related to the tyranny of the moment.

I know this is all jumbled up. But this is how it is in my head right now.

Community as curriculum – We are the learning. We learn from each other, through each other, from each other’s learning, from our ideas, our shared and unshared contexts and, maybe more importantly, we learn to continue to do this… because that open collaborative spirit is going to be the curriculum of success as we move forward.

Open Learning – We’ve got a paper coming out soon that explains this better, but openness in the sense of transparency of practice, of opening the doors and giving access of allowing people into our work. Of sharing.

The tyranny of the moment – Print is responsible for our retaining a massive number of things. It underwrites many of the advances we’ve made, it’s dreadfully important. But the technology that makes print forces us to think in terms of final drafts, of ended thoughts of things that are defined and finished. This is holding us back…

I don’t actually mention the latter in the video… but you can see it in there…

Edfutures – How to collaborate and not lead.

I’ve written about 20 short pieces over on the http://edfutures.com site, and figured i would carry one over here… crosspost alert.

* note: i just noticed after posting that the title is not quite what i meant. I mean that collaboration does not always require a FULL investment… one can, i guess, peripherally participate :p hey. that sounds good, peripheral participation.

Not everyone is going to be a leader in every situation. There are four scenarios currently posted and, I expect, we might get a few more before we get to the end of this very interesting experiment. But, lets say, you don’t feel like you’ve been engaged enough to really start your own. You don’t, maybe, have the kind of time to put in to do the reading and work out what exactly it is you’re supposed to do.

But you still want to do something.

Here’s your invitation to join in. The first and most simple rule is

“Add don’t take away” –
Feel free to jump into a scenario and add a few points at a given line, add a sentence on the end (or in the middle) or a paragraph, create a new section or fill out one of the blank ones. Do not feel free to delete the work done by someone else. If you think something is out of place, or should be deleted, leave a note explaining your reasons. You can add to a scenario, but don’t take away from it.

“contribute what isn’t there” –
One of the great things about working with other people who care about the same things as you do is that you get things that aren’t expected. I’ve seen many people look at work and think “oh, they are doing something else” and not contribute to a certain place because they feel like their idea is too different or doesn’t fit it. Please. This is EXACTLY the kind of contribution that is the most valuable. Surprise is a very important part of learning. Also… it is a great testimony to people’s work that their contribution made you think of something else and caused you to go off in another direction.

“Do the grunt work” –
If you’re not feeling up to engaging at a high creative level, jump in and do some of the grunt work. Any piece of work is going to be well served by cleaner sentences, more organized bullets, good spacing… that kind of thing. I can tell you from experience that it is a very happy feeling to come back to your work and find things more tidy than when you left them.

“Leave feedback” –
not sure where your idea fits in? Create a new section, call it ‘feedback’ or something and just write out what it made you think. That kind of feedback is very helpful for others trying to think through the work that they are doing. It might also get you to the point where you’re going to be doing more work later.

“wear the skin of the idea” –
maybe the most important part of collaboration. Lord Russell has a great quote (which i can’t seem to get my hands on) that says that any time you approach new thinking its important to first get an idea what it would be like to walk a day wearing the idea as a skin. What would it be like to think this way? What kinds of things come out of it. Simply reading a scenario should be an learning experience… try to follow it’s thinking before criticising it. This is the hardest thing for me to remember… but i keep trying.

“cheer” –
if all else fails… just tell people about what you liked. Critical feedback is better than Ra! Ra! Ra! feedback… but often people read things and think “wow… that was really interesting” and never leave that because they feel they have nothing to add. Just add that. Just say “you know, i really enjoyed reading that”.

Scenarios I know about

http://nafutures.wikispaces.com/Some+numbers+and+general+scenarios

http://edfuturescenario.wikispaces.com/Creating+Unity+in+Diversity

http://edfuturescenario.wikispaces.com/Business+and+Higher+Education

http://nafutures.wikispaces.com/The+Blended+Mash-Up+Model