Preparing for OER17

Packing Pile by Frances Bell  CC-BY-NC-SA

I seem to have been preparing for OER17 for a long time, seeing as this is my eighth post tagged OER17 . I am setting off on Tuesday morning, and I am really looking forward to meeting old friends and new people whose names are on great submissions.  The programme is very rich and bodes well for stimulating ideas and discussion. I know I am not the only one who is finding it difficult to choose which sessions to attend so I am hoping to catch up on some of the ones I have missed through hallway conversations and the Twitter stream.

Even people who want to participate remotely have various options. The  three hashtags that I will be inhabiting are #OER17, the conference hashtag;#critoep , a hashtag that some of us are hoping will aggregate the wonderful critical work at the conference; and #femedtech, the hash tag for a newborn network that we hope will grow at OER17, hence the stickers that I am packing. If you think you might be interested in femedtech, check out the hashtag and our website We also have an informal get together planned at lunch on Wednesday 5 April, watch out for more details on the hash tag.

I am going to attend the three keynotes, and I’m aiming to live blog them so more of that later. I am also chairing three sessions which will be a great pleasure.

1500 Wed 5 April – 3 presentations in the Institutional Politics theme: Exploring International Open Educational Practices, Advocating for Open: The role of learning support professionals in changing practice, and Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy: Addressing the challenges of openness

10.30 Thurs 6 April A workshop in the Open Party theme: Histropedia – Building an open interactive history of everything with Wikimedia content

13.45 Thurs 6 April – 2 presentations in the Participation and Social Equality theme: Reclaiming the social justice agenda: MOOCs, openness and community orientations and The trade and the gift: open education and economies of academic labour

And last but not least, I am contributing to two sessions myself:

I am part of a great panel Staying open: sustaining critical open educational practice in a time of walls and borders with the very lovely Sheila MacNeill, Vivien Rolfe, Josie Fraser, and Kate Bowles. From writing the abstract to creating the panel session activities, this has been an amazing developmental and relationship-building experience, and for that I thank the panel members. I hope that our session, that includes plenty of time to listen to and involve our participants, can play a part in opening up the existing critical discussion around Open Educational Practice. #critoep  can provide traces of this journey.

My own presentation Being Critical in and of Open Educational Practice , another #critoep  contribution, concerns a particular passion of mine that reflects other sessions such as Laura Czerniewycz and Catherine Cronin’s , namely that the exclusion of digital, and particularly how it is provided and accessed, from our critical gaze is mistaken. We need to apply our criticality even if we have roles that involve advocacy. Digital platforms and networks should also be the subject of critique. I blogged my ideas prior to the presentation and will report back on the contribution of participants as I indicate in my slides.

And finally, my personal learning goal for OER17 is to learn more about Wikipedia. Since I attended Wikimedia UK AGM last July, I have wanted to do some Wikipedia editing. Since we have 2 Wikimedia UK Trustees, Josie Fraser and Lorna Campbell, and the Chief Executive, Lucy Compton-Reid, attending OER17; and several sessions including drop-ins, I should be able to achieve that. We are also considering holding one or more feminist Wikipedia editathons at Femedtech.

It’s all going to be great 🙂

You can’t have one without the other

Over the last few weeks on Rhizo14, I have been troubled with the either/or nature of some of our weekly tasks. We could argue about whether or not that was intended but at least some of the students have perceived concepts as being presented in opposition to each other:  Cheating as Learning , Enforcing Independence, Is Books Making Us Stupid?

More and more I kept thinking about dualities (more of that later), and it reminded me of a heated discussion on CCK08 about networks and groups. The discussion itself has disappeared from the web, but I can find a snippet of it in an xtranormal video that I made in 2009.  The scenario it presents is a conversation between Stephen Downes and Si Si Kate who is a composite character with words taken from the forum and blog postings of Stephen Downes and CCK08 participants. Maybe here on rhizo14, it’s the relationship of apparently opposite things like trees and rhizomes, books and the participatory web that’s of concern. You can jump to the conversation by clicking or watch the video here.

Hildreth and Kimble conceived of the two types of knowledge that we have discussed here as a duality:

“Rather than seeing knowledge as opposites, perhaps we should think of it as consisting of two complementary facets: a duality consisting simultaneously and inextricably of both what was previously termed ‘structured’ and ‘less structured’ knowledge.” Hildreth and Kimble

A duality that has been nagging away at me is the duality of participation and reification identified by Wenger in his work on Communities of Practice.  I think it is particularly relevant to our experience on rhizo14, and this is an occasion when we need some theory to help us make sense of our practice when dichotomies just don’t work.  Reification is a horrible word, but we grappled with one reification of knowledge last week, the book, and it turned out that the villain of the piece still has a place in some hearts.

I took the diagram from Hildreth and Kimble, and annotated it with my idea of some the places we have been participating, and some of the ways have been reifying on rhizo14.


It’s pretty obvious to think of the reifications that structure the course – we all look for the next week’s task on P2PU.  A by-product of online participation is that it makes concrete the to and fro of conversation. We might re-read a thread in the FB group whereas if we were having an oral conversation, we would not be rewinding.

An example that springs to mind is my own product for Week 4.  I recorded a video (hoping it would be less book-like), published it on youtube, then my blog and encouraged rhizo14ers to post comments on the blog. Then Terry Elliott, put my video into Vialogue, and people have come to comment there.  I am thrilled and have a real sense of engagement  in the conversations at my blog and on Vialogue.

The duality of participation and reification really helps me to make sense of what has happened.  The question was the video more participatory than, say, a (reified) text blog post? just doesn’t make sense.  Everything was reified, my speaking (as a video), the blog post and comments, the conversation at Vialogue.  There was participation in everything but my original recording. What can shed light is thinking about the mutuality between the participation and the reified objects.

You can’t have one without the other

P.S. please don’t treat the words of the song literally – I know you can have love without marriage;)

Framework for Virtual Communities

Framework for Virtual Communities

after Steinmueller

This is a very hastily written blog post to contribute to discussion about real or imagined community at Heli’s blog.

The diagram above is my visualisation of Steinmueller’s view of virtual community.  If you want to find out more about my thoughts in 2003 please click.

I’d just like to pick out a few points:

In the diagram, you can see the 3Ps that are common to most early 21st century views of online or virtual communities – People (membership), Policies (governance), and Purpose (individual and/or group attribute).

The aspect (that is Steinmueller’s contribution) that seems particularly relevant to me is Sustainability.  Steinmueller characterised this as something that is lost

either when the costs of participation exceed the willingness to participate

or there is a coordination failure .

The coordination failure could be that horrible experience when you log in one morning to find that the space no longer exists, or something else goes wrong.

Anyway, this is for you – take it or leave it.