Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Open Learning

Creative Learning - Week 5

Video: Audrey Watters, Mako Hill (Moderator: Philipp Schmidt). Opened discussing peoples teaching/learning videos which they did by Hangout. People noted the courage needed to document publicly your learning or teaching. Then on to Open Learning.  Ultimately there was acknowledgement that these methods might not be for all, but they're important.

Audrey started to think about it because of blogging and the way she was doing professional learning. She blogs to learn, but it's also about how she licenses her work. It requires being willing to put out half-baked ideas and to then collaborate on them. Worries that so much of online learning is replicating traditional lecture. (Hmm.)  Mako does open programming on a number of big projects. He sums up his unlearning experiences in a post at his site.

They discuss how blogging is similar to open programming. We need a way to fork with attribution. Audrey is even trying putting work up on github. Mako notes how a big part of the open programming idea is that the user owns the work. I think similar to the idea of student-centered learning. Both this and the Learning Web article talk about the benefits of systems being hackable. If education is not a blackbox, then we can adjust and understand what's going on. (Previously in the course this was a point about technology for learning, that if it's inscrutable there's no learning, and if it's hackable it leads to creation.)

At 54 min in response to a question about the classroom application, Audrey makes a strong statement of collaboration as the first step towards openness. Mako echoes, encouraging students to document learning not just for themselves but in an open space where others can engage. Actually, let's clip that.

Reading: "Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0" (pdf) by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler.; Ivan Illich: Deschooling Society (Chapter 6: Learning Webs); Eric Steven Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar a essay on the development of fetchmail for Linux. (links are all pdf)

Minds on Fire: an advocacy piece pushing for online, social learning. Nothing constructive, I think, but pretty descriptive of the hopes of the backers of this. I liked the pictures.

Learning Webs: "In school registered students submit to certified teachers in order to obtain certificates of their own; both are frustrated and both blame insufficient resources--money, time, or buildings--for their mutual frustration." The article gets into the difference between schooling and learning. It is literally radical and often rambling, which might be off-putting to some readers, but I found it thought provoking. On people's desire to have Aristotle for their Alexander: "The person who can both inspire students and demonstrate a technique is so rare, and so hard to recognize, that even princelings more often get a sophist than a true philosopher." Illich is advocating liberation pedagogy.

Cathedral and the Bazaar: interesting as an analogy for curriculum development. This is what I would like to see; I think it's what tends to happen with Dan Meyer's projects/movements. What does debugging mean? In the midst of writing this, Michael Pershan led a Global Math session to fix his broken Complex Numbers unit. He's put a lot of work into where it is now, but 20-30 teachers put in a good hour to discuss and revise. Great experience. In the video debugging is contracted with the 'you learned it or you didn't' vision of education.

Recommendation: watch the video, skip the parts irrelevant to you. If you're ramble and revolution tolerant, read the Learning Webs article.

AssignmentTeach & Learn = Ask & Answer
1) Go to and choose a site that you find interesting
2) Post (at least) one question and answer someone else’s question (at least one)
3) Reflect: What aspects of the experience contribute to a sense of a learning community? What aspects limit a sense of community?
Learning match (extra activity): Offer to teach something & sign-up to learn something from someone else - Post it here

I'm new to Stack Exchange, but there is a large Mathematics section with 115,000 questions. The questions on the front page were math major or grad student level questions, with some research level questions. Fascinating. I chose to answer a question about mathematically related online games. There was some frustration with posting, getting used to the editor, etc. But not too bad. Here's the question and answer. They wouldn't let me put more than 2 links, so I put them into a Tumblr post

Harder to think about what I would ask. I wound up asking about those Escher spirals I never finished (Tumblr posts one and two) and my secondary sabbatical project, a common core sharing framework. The reputation bit reminds me of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom... "them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose."

It's an interesting site, and I'd love to hear from people who like it how they like it. How does it compare to Quora for example? It feels more focused and less social, but that's an initial impression. (I'm not a big Quora user, either, though.)

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