IMG_4908

A little blue sky thinking.

For the last few weeks I’ve been kicking the tyres of the new MS 365 glow. It is not without its teething problems, although these do seem to be getting found and fixed. Education Scotland seem confident that everything will get sorted but we have not had much indication of how long it will take.

The Glow Migration Update from Bill Maxwell, hints that the Local Authorities can take their time moving into 365 and new services will be rolling out:

This means authorities will be able to ensure, that together, we create the best possible experiences for Glow users, matched to their users’ needs.

The services and applications required to support this will be rolled out in partnership with local authorities. This will include the opportunity for any blogs, wikis and other services which local authorities want further time to consider to be uploaded.

There is a lot of work being done in getting the 365 site to work well for education, designing ways to aggregate content and build learner experiences. The one interesting place in the new glow so far is the LearnCat site, which is full of activities,

Scottish learners – you can learn to create, make, build, bake, grow, collect, code, tell stories ……and more

This is exciting stuff. It is hard to tell how this will work out until we have a lot of learners in the 365 glow, but to me, the concept looks great.

I think the main problem with the old glow and the new 365 service is its size, a bit of a behemoth, hard to change and adapt to particular circumstances. A lighter weight and more flexible solution might suit conceprs like learncat better?

Domain of One’s Own: Notes from the Trailing Edge

Yesterday I watch the video of this presentation at TEDx Sagrado Corazón by Jim Groom, who has blogged his slides and text: Domain of One’s Own: Notes from the Trailing Edge.

I think there are some great ideas for taking glow forward in the way Bill Maxwell wants:

we create the best possible experiences for Glow users, matched to their users’ needs.

The services and applications required to support this will be rolled out

(My selection from the Quote from Mr Maxwell above).

Jim says,

A forward thinking IT infrastructure (which would be fairly loose, fast, and cheap using open standards of syndication) would work to connect these various individuals into a network, creating serendipitous connections that taken together reflect the rich tapestry of who the people are that make up any institution.

Jim discussed the idea of giving users, flexible webhosting in a domain of their own. Jim linked to Jon Udell’s post, MOOCs need to be user innovation toolkits where Jon writes:

There’s a reason I keep finding novel uses for these trailing-edge technologies. I see them not as closed products and services, but rather as toolkits that invite their users to adapt and extend them. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel calls such things “user innovation toolkits” — products or services that, while being used for their intended purposes, also enable their users to express unanticipated intents and find ways to realize them.

Jim goes on to say:

This is exactly what UMW’s Domain of One’s Own is philosophically grounded in. Giving every student, staff, and faculty their own User Innovation Toolkit so that they can fully understand the principles of the web. Interrogate its limits, and extend its possibilities.

Jim then links to A Personal Cyberinfrastructure where Gardner Campbell writes,

To build a cyberinfrastructure that scales without stiflling innovation, that is self-supporting without being isolated or fatally idiosyncratic, we must start with the individual learners. Those of us who work with students must guide them to build their own personal cyberinfrastructures, to embark on their own web odysseys. And yes, we must be ready to receive their guidance as well.

.

What if….

The quotes above are from folk working in tertiary education, I am wondering if they could be adapted to schools. What if

  • Glow gave every learner and teacher in Scotland a domain. (Perhaps not at nursery, start with training wheels, at a certain point the wheels are taken off, 13 or 16 maybe). The domain could be kept for life. When a learner left full time education they could take their domain with them.
  • Glow added simple webhosting to it services for every user.
  • Folk could use something like c-panel to start up a new blog/wiki/eportfolio/whatever.
  • Glow was therefore open to using old tools in new ways.
  • This part of glow would not be one large application but lots of small ones that can be linked and aggregated in lots of ways.

Sounds a bit like glew.org.uk, it is a lot like Glew with even less centrality.

It does not preclude using 365, google docs or anything else. This would be a service that users would use their glow authentication to logon to.

I do not think this would need to be expensive. By using trailing edge technology, that is used all over the internet, this could be started fairly simply and grow if there was a demand.

Give teachers and learners in Scotland the opportunity to innovate. Much of the innovation in online education has not come from new applications, but teachers finding ways to use old ones in innovative and creative ways.

The argument in the current glow for not being able to add plugins or update the software for blogs (for example) was security and stability. By adopting standard webhosting, these problems would be to a large extent negated. Most webhosts can handle users doing daft things without the whole thing falling over. (I say this, not because I understand webhosting, but because I’ve done a few daft things as a customer). Taking things even further how would something like OpenShift, where it takes minutes to get a cloud application up and running, fit.

Why Not Just use the ‘real’ web

It has been suggested a few times that Scotland gives up glow, and teachers can choose to use any existing services on the internet. This might be fine if we all had access to use these services and they met with national and local security and data protection needs. As things stand we do not and there is not a level playing field across Scotland.

What Then…

Who knows, the field would be open. Just thinking about blogs and RSS (and I don’t think of a lot else), I’ve blogged ideas for using blogs and aggregating them a few times:

I’ve no real idea of how easy it would be to set up authenticated web and domain hosting for a whole nation, but give the time and money that has been put into glow as a large central service, it might not cost too much to provide a structure for a lightweight loosely joined corner of the web for Scottish learners and teachers?

Might it be that by being at the trailing edge, using tried and tested tools, thatost and risk might be low, but provide platforms for teachers and learners to innovate?

If you going to the Scottish learning festival this year I would like to invite to contribute to EDUtalk.

EDUtalk is, among other things, an open to any contributions podcast. EDUtalk started at the Scottish learning Festival in 2009 when David Noble and myself invited any of the attendees to submit audio to a podcast SLFtalk (lost when posterous stopped). We were trying to provide alternate sources of information and reflections about the festival and make it as easy as possible for people to both contribute and listen to the contributions of others.

This year given the ubiquity of personal mobile devices is even easier to contribute to EDUtalk.

Here are three simple ways:

  1. Audioboo an application for both iPhone and android, Audioboo allows you to record short segments of audio and upload then to the Audioboo site. If you tag the ‘boo’ #EDUtalk they will be brought in automatically to the EDUtalk site.
  2. Just record some audio on anything a computer on smartphone whatever you got. Then you can email it to audio@edutalk.cc and we’ll take it from there. There are usually a few computers on the floor at a SLF that are connected to the Internet many of these will have built-in mics it should be pretty easy to record something there and email it to edutalk.
  3. Another app you can use is a ipadio, this is an app like audioboo – available for android and iOS to record audio and sent to ipadio. Again if you tag it #edutalk we’ll pick up automatically and post it to edutalk.

So what do people talk about. You could talk about a session you been to. A keynote. You could talk to a colleague or friend.

You can have conversations with anyone about anything educational, at the coffee bar , in a quiet corner. it can be about whatever, educational, topic you like. Your thoughts we want them.

With the huge changes going on in Education this is a chance for us to join in the conversation, to talk across boundaries, of local authority, of hierarchy and think about what really matters today.

DS106, digital storytelling 106:

is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington, but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

from: About ds106

DS106 can be difficult to understand without becoming involved. It is easy to bounce off the surface of animated gif twitter chat, but there is a lot of learning going on both on the surface and by looking s little deeper.

It is worth having a look at the syllabus.

It covers the basics of setting up an online presence and space for the storytelling you will be come involved in, a blog, twitter and flickr accounts and the like.

The course then goes through theory and practice of digital storytelling, covering design, images, video and audio. In each section of the course participants can add to the assignments as well completing them, the course is, to some extent, built by the students.

What, in my opinion, has made ds106 stand out from the crowd of bigger online courses is the atmosphere and the guidance provided by the instructors at UMW, other locations and from repeat students. The dedication of the instructors to model what they expect from students and to openly comment on the students published work is phenomenal. What is more they do this for open online students. They have also managed to install this work ethic in the participants, there is a high level of engagement between learners and some blurring of roles.

The other exciting thing about ds106 is the riffing of one participant on artefacts produced by another, participants are encouraged to share their creations with cc licences and to remix the work of others. They are also encouraged, required for students at UMW, to give the back story, working methods and ideas surrounding their assignments.

This iteration of DS106 is a we bit different, there are no instructors:

What we are going to do is to publish every Monday a suggested set of activities and creative assignments that you are free to do as you see fit or interested. These are republications of previous materials from ds106 courses taught at the University of Mary Washington since 2011, but this time around, there are no registered students, just the open folks.

from: Getting Closer to Headless #ds106 – CogDogBlog

I’ve deliberately used the word participants above as there is a blurring or rolls between instructors, students and open-online-participants in a normal ds106 course, this one will push that a bit.

I’ve had a huge amount of fun (my ds106 blog), learned a lot about digital stroytelling and online learning dipping in and out of ds106, if you are interested in online education, learning about digital media and openness I cannot recommend it enough.

DS106 Fall 2013 Headless starts on the 26th of August. You can find out what to do here: Coming Soon! The Headless ds106 Course

Weave Comp

Teach the Web Week 3: the Open Web

Plan your makes with your collaborator and then do it! If you’re in a study group, you’re encouraged to work together around your topic. Share your makes with the #teachtheweb community.

Among the suggestions for reflection were:

  • Why might sharing and publishing in the open be advantageous?
  • What are the benefits of inviting people to remix ideas?
  • What are some possible ways “free” tools aren’t really free? Or make money?

There are lots more suggested activities and reflections, but that was enough for me

Thinking about my activity in the Mozilla Webmakers – Google+ group this week gives, I believe, a little insight into some of these questions. I was not actively considering them, just reading and playing.

Working with Walter

First Walter Patterson a fellow Scot contacted me with an idea of working together on a thimble page about a couple of ‘open’ projects. We have started work on this. The first benefits of open I met were, getting an idea of what to do, Walter reminded me that EDUtalk was an open project. and then working off Walter’s thimble edits I got to a reasonable page: EDUtalk is Open (not as yet finished). I didn’t have an idea where to start until I’d seem Walter’s starting point. So the second benefit of working in the open is finding ideas, they don’t all come from serendipity.

Open Talk

Once I had thought of EDUtalk, I though that it might be a good place for talking about open collaboration. EDUtalk itself is an example of working in the open, part of it consists of a podcast that is open for anyone to contribute to. THe other part is a weekly internet radio broadcast that becomes a podcast, we publish in the open under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 SCOTLAND license. I invited folk from the Mozilla Webmakers community to participate, at very short notice. Chris Lawrence and Laura Hilliger stepped up and stepped into the skype studio for Radio #EDUtalk 15-05-13 #teachtheweb. This is another example of getting great contributors by working in the open. I am constantly amazed at the interesting folk I get to talk to just by running a podcast.

Open Learning

The rest of the week I have had a bundle of fun by getting ideas from other webmaker participants. One of the things I wanted to get out of the MOOC was to improve my webmaking skills. I’ve found it difficult to learn the skills by doing exercises, but often find, time constraints lead me to use less that elegant solutions when working on a ‘real’ web site.

This wek I’ve found that I’ve learnt by doing small things, these have been inspired by the open sharing of ideas and projects by others in the MOOC.

Crowning Chad

Somewhere in the group a comment by Chad lead me to mess around with a little CSS to make A Crown for Chad the request for others to mix it up was taken up by a few folk, Pekka Ollikainen took it to JavaScript, teaching us some canvas animation and showing this using JS Bin a great companion to thimble.

Thimble Tracking

I saw a post by Heather Angel wondering about how to to create a layout that is made to be constantly updated in thimble. As I had been wondering how to keep track of thimble edits I though I’d try something. Thimble Chaining is a simple thimble page with a google form and the resulting spreadsheet embedded. The idea would be to use the form to add your name and the url of the edit you just saved. Not very elegant, but it does the trick. I believe Mozilla are working on a solution that will track edits and pages spawned from the first page. This will would be a very useful addition to the system.

Open Is…

The last bit of fun this week was sparked by Chad again, he was making an “Open is…” inspirational web app collaboration from the Writing as Making, Making as Writing study group. The latest version by Chad is here: #teachtheweb: Open is…. As Chad was collecting quotes via twitter, I was thinking of automating that. I tried a couple of approaches, using ifttt.com to collect #open_is tweets to a google spreadsheet and then loading that via javascript: open-is – JS Bin I also pulled then in directly from a twitter search: Random #open_is tweet

What I was learning, using JS Bin was dealing with json in JavaScript, I got a lot out of this play, more that I do following tutorials or interactive lessons. I believe this increase in learning is due to playing in the open, the open provides the ideas and perhaps an audience. I am not sure if my edits are very useful, compared to human curation in this case but a great learning exercise for me.

Google + is not Open!

Of course it is open for anyone to join in. The Mozilla Webmakers – Google+ group is open to anyone and valuable for that. But I am struggling to keep up with conversation. The site works well for joining in with the moment, the iOS apps are great, but there is something missing. I can’t keep a record of my activities. I mentioned this in the last post too, but if I am learning here, I want to track my progress and wanderings. As a learner by progress is important to me and I am having trouble following it.

Picked up, ironically, via my Google Reader this morning was a post with much better, deeper thinking on this issue:

It seems to me that with Google+, Google is not adopting open syndication standards in two ways: not using it “internally”, and not making feeds publicly available. There may be good technical reasons for the first, but by the second Google is *not allowing* its community members to participate in a open content syndication network/system. Google’s choice, but I’m not playing.

from: Are We Just Google’s Lab Rats? | OUseful.Info, the blog…

Obviously I am playing, there is a lot to be gained from using G+, but I hope that organisers of powerful online learning communities like the teachtheweb one will have better tools to choose from sometime soon.

The Teach the Web Week 2 is about Connected Learning in Practice

Last week we explored “Making as Learning”. We’re proponents of the idea that people learn best through making, but we also believe that making and learning are social activities. It’s a bit like the old idiom “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If you make and learn, but don’t share and gather feedback, have you really learned? How do other people’s perceptions influence how we understand the world around us? How does being connected change the very fabric of our world?

So I am thinking about learning communities. Mostly about the practical way the connection happens in the #teachtheweb MOOC.

I joined this MOOC, the Mozilla Teach the Web. It follows the same sort of organisational structure as etmooc, using several different web sites and services:

  • A Website, Teach the Web where information, announcements, tasks and the like can be posted.
  • As part of that site a Blog Hub where participants blogs, or the appropriate category of said blogs, are aggregated.
  • A twitter hashtag #teachtheweb
  • A google plus community where participants can post links to their activities, discuss them etc.

This seems a reasonably inexpensive way to organise a learning community and for the most part works very well. I have only just started with the #teachtheweb MOOC and only fully participated in #etmooc for the first two or three weeks, but I’ve found, when I had the time, it is fairly easy to keep up with the communities.

As far as I can see almost all of the interaction, especially in #teachtheweb is taking place on the google plus group.

So there are 3 main spaces involved in this sort of community. These could be categorised as: Long Form, blog posts; medium on google plus and micro on twitter. Of course there is plenty of cross posting of blog posts to g+ and tweets that help connect the spaces together.
Each type of interaction has its benefits and each its drawbacks.

Own Your Own

One of the really appealing aspects of this set up is that participants own their own space and can participate by posting to their own blogs. This has been shown, for example in DS106 to be a powerful tool in community building.

Apart from the buzz and enjoyment of having a ‘domain’ of ones own the way blogs can be aggregated into one stream, either an official one, built on, for example, FeedWordPress or through the use of an RSS reader make it easy to connect with others while maintaining ownership of ones own space. WordPress blogs in particular (unlike this one) are great at collecting mentions or trackbacks from other blogs.

It would be interesting to see if this could be extended into the shorter conversations taking place on twitter and google plus. I’ve found the google plus communities to be good places to interact with other folk and keep up with what is going on. I’ve found it harder to keep track of what I’ve done there.

Google plus scores over twitter in the ease of interaction, there is more room for replying and the conversations can be richer in both media and length.

Hard to Collect

Google plus falls down in trying to find the things I’ve commented on or given a plus one. There is a page on google plus that lists things I’ve ‘plus oned’ on the web (I hardly ever do this) but it does not collect those I make inside a google plus community.

I’d really like a page where I could view my activity on the community. In twitter I use favourites as a quick way to bookmark things I want to revisit. I was in #etmooc trying to use the +1 button for the same thing, it doesn’t work, basically the use of the +1 is to let the person making the post know you like it.

I’d also like to be able to view a stream of my comments on other folks posts and one of my posts. Perhaps there is a way to do this that I’ve not found?

More sharing please

There are one or two features that could help. It would be nice to tweet a link to a google plus ‘post’, on an iPad. The iPad has a great google plus app, I’d like to be able to copy a link to a post. Unfortunately although this can be done in a desktop browser in a few click (a few too many) I’ve not managed to do this in either the iPad google+ app or in the few mobile browsers, safari, icab and chrome, I’ve tested.

I’d love the google+ iPad app to support the same sort of sharing that my ios RSS readers do.

feedler share menu

This RSS reader, FeeddlerPro allows me to customise the sharing menu, there are more possibilities that the ones I use.

If this was possible in G+ it would be a lot better at connecting my learning.

thimble and other Mozilla webmaking tools

These are being put at the heart of the practical tasks for the #teachtheweb MOOC. They are easy to use online web making tools. I’ve a few thoughts about how they work, but that is for another post. The feature that is really great for connecting to other learners is the idea that you can take another persons thimble project and remix it by simply adding a /edit at the end of the URL.

Unfortunately at the moment there is no way to see a trail of how different projects are being remixed. This does seem to be in the works. Once that happens this will be a more powerful tool for connected learning, one could see how others have remixed the same project and how people have improved and iterated on your project.

The other thing that would be useful would be to see the trail of your own iterations of an idea. At first I was annoyed by the fact that each time I saved an edit in thimble it was saved as a separate URL my next version would have a new URL. In fact this might be a positive feature, if tracked, it would allow me to see and share my progress through a task.

Pulling it together

What I’d really like if for all of the sources of activity to be able to be gathered, aggregated redistributed and mixed up together. I imagine a page where I could see links to all of the recent blog posts, tweets and google plus stuff, even better if things you made with the web maker tools were in the mix. This could be filtered so that you could view one persons activity, or activity around a particular tag or topic, eg. Week2

I guess there is not a lot of hope for this emerging from the tools available at the moment, twitter removed RSS and g+ has never supported it. Understandably these free to use services are interested in keeping you inside their own environment rather than viewing content from them on other places. I wonder if better tools for open learning are around the corner.

Chad Final

Week two of the teachtheweb mooc starts with a challange: Explore the awesome makes from last week, choose one, and remix it.. At lunch today I though I’d take a very quick stab at this using Chad’s Webmaker Profile, as Chad is a fellow ds106er and I though he would enjoy the play.

The First shot

Given I was on my lunch break, I though I’d just flip the profile: Chad’s Webmaker Profile. I went to Chad’s original profile and added edit after the url, this opened thimble for me to edit his profile. I know that you can flip, turn and rotate elements of a webpage via the css transform. A quick google and I came up with:
transform: rotateY(0.5turn);-webkit-transform:rotateY(180deg);
This rotates content 180 degrees around the y axis. I added it to the css section in thimble, changing this:

body { font-family:Open Sans, "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, sans-serif;width:1000px;margin:0 auto; }

to this:

body { font-family:Open Sans, "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, sans-serif;width:1000px;margin:0 auto; transform: rotateY(0.5turn);-webkit-transform:rotateY(180deg);}

I think you need to use both transform: rotateY(0.5turn) and -webkit-transform:rotateY(180deg) to get cross browser support, but I might be wrong.

Quite please with 3 minutes work I posted to the G+ Community.

Looking out

Between a comment and an image I made for ds106 a while back, I started thinking about the page being a view out of the computer, so it should be looking at Chad:Chad’s Webmaker Profile.

On this edit, I’ve added Chad’s photo, hotlinked from his g+ images as a background image. All this took was adding a wee bit nmore css to the body:

background-image:url('fullimageURL.jpg');
	background-repeat:no-repeat;
	background-attachment:fixed;
	background-position:center; 

In the bloc above I’ve shortened the url, I used the full url to the image. The code first adds the iamge as a background to the page, ensures it does not repeat, fixes the position to the window and lastly centres it.

Itterating

What is probably irritating for my fellow MOOCers is that I am posting these and as I post geting more ideas, this means a lot of space is taken up on the G+ group.

As I post the last one, I irritate myself as the background picture does not fill the screen. Google again and I get this:

	webkit-background-size: cover;
	-moz-background-size: cover;
	-o-background-size: cover;
	background-size: cover;

All 4 lines do the same thing for different browsers.

I also notice a new post with an audio mashup, this reminds me of Freesound where I find: Freesound.org – “computer-noise_desktop_quadcore_2009.wav” by matucha, I know Freesound supply low quality mp3 and ogg files so add an audio tag to my page, just after the body tag:

<audio autoplay>
	  <source src="http://www.freesound.org/data/previews/160/160465_739478-lq.ogg" type="audio/ogg">
	  <source src="http://www.freesound.org/data/previews/160/160465_739478-lq.mp3" type="audio/mpeg">
	  Your browser does not support the audio tag.
	</audio>

As I don’t have any controls in the tag, the player does not show, but autoplay gets it going when the page loads.

Finally I remember that Chad suggested a gif, so I download his image and make a gif of him rolling his eyes. Upload that to google and hotlink instead of the original jpg as a background. finally I have: Here’s iterating at you, Chad, I had to save twice as I needed to attribute the audio which is share under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 license.

So here is the Final version:

Here’s iterating at you, Chad.

Musing about Making

So like a lot of the things that I do for fun, this sort of bumbled along with one shot leading to the next. What was great about doing this inside the #teachtheweb community was there were lots of ideas to bounce off. This blog post was started after a comment on the final link I posted. Does that make this connected learning?

One of the lovely things about html is, if you know sometinhg is possible the method is just a quick google away. I wonder if that makes web editing a more accessable way of encouraging creativity?

Thimble thoughts

I’ve made between 6 and 10 experiments with Mozilla Thimble now, which makes me an expert;-)

I’ve found it a wee bit slow on older computers, so I’d think about that before using it in a class.

The split screen view is really good for seeing the changes made to the code take effect. I would however like the option of a tabbed screen so that I could see the whole of the preview without needing a huge screen. I’d also like the forthcoming ability to re-edit a page rather than having to save with a new url. The trail of urls is good for reviewing the process and blogging about it.

I would also like thimble to keep a track of my creations, I am pretty sure I’ve lost track of a few.

The most powerful features of thimble are, for me the templates which have great comments and the way you can easily edit someone else’s creation.

I’ve just Joined Teach the Web:

Teach the Web: a Mozilla Open Online Collaboration for Webmaker mentors

May 2 – June 30

Learn how to teach digital literacies, master webmaking tools, develop your own educational resources, and take what you learned back to your communities and classrooms.

from: Teach the Web

The first task is:

MAKE Project this week: Introduce yourself @Webmaker style by using Popcorn Maker, Thimble or the XRay Goggles and sharing your make with #teachtheweb.

from: Teach the Web

Which smells quite like the #etmooc first task, so I decided to remix and recycle my Hello #ETMOOC youtube video with popcorn.

Popcorn Maker has evolved a lot since the last time I looked at it, Playing with Hackasaurus and popcorn, back then I gave up and used the Popcorn.js javascript files and edited by hand. At that time, I found popcorn maker really slow and klunky on my equipment. Since then it has really taken a jump (and I am on a better box). I found it really easy to use, and would say it would now be very usable in a classroom.

One of the things I am lookingfroward to finding out about is how folk fit webmaking into classrooms, as opposed to afterschool or out of school activities, but that is for later. Now I’ll jsut try and see what is going on in the #teachtheweb community.

Last week I posted about open and close systems. Ironically I then got into a very interesting conversation with Peter Dickman (Engineering Manager at Google Zürich)
in the Scottish Education – Google+ community. You need to join the community to read it, hence the irony, but anyone can join. (I’ve still not got my head round g+ yet)

This morning I had a bumper breakfast from my RSS reader, mostly about the open web, open education and the like.

Alan Levine:

And so it goes with the lost web. It’s the individual who is finished. Blogging is dead, and our remaining bits of expression are locked into the data churning ad returning machines of GoogleFacebook, a web of two billion million data analyzed, ad-served, status messaging, app infested bots, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as …

from: It’s the Individual That’s Finished – CogDogBlog

Audrey Watters:

When I think of “open learning,” I think about the “open Web.” And for me, it isn’t simply a matter of what’s becoming a rather tired cliché that “you can learn anything you want online.” (You can’t. Lots of great stuff isn’t available there, or it's behind a paywall.) Rather, the open Web has allowed me to write and share and learn and collaborate with others — in public, in open and informal spaces, with openly licensed content, with open-ended and unscripted inquiry.

from: Reclaim Your Domain: A #ReclaimOpen Hackathon Project

Jim Groom:

Reclaim Your Domain has to be about a variety of hosting options, services, resources, and possibilities to manage your identities online across a variety of services, this is not necessarily “give up all social networks, drop offline, and feed the rabbits” —rather it’s about controlling (to the extent you can), backing up, and syndicating the work you do on the web. A home for your data that can be as distributed and decentralized as the platform it’s designed for.

from: Reclaim Open Learning | bavatuesdays

From Alan’s fears, through Audrey Watters’ mapping of what is good to Jim’s action plan.

Talking about it isn’t good enough / But quoting from it at least demonstrates / The virtue of an art that knows its mind. // Seamus Heaney : Squarings

By which I mean I don’t have anything deep to add other but I am enjoying and nodding along.


A decade ago, metadata was all the rage among the geeks. You could tag, geo-tag, or machine-tag Flickr photos. Flickr is from the old community. That’s why you can still do Creative Commons searches at Flickr. But you can’t on Instagram. They don’t care about metadata. From an end-user point of view, RSS is out of favor. The new companies are not investing in creating metadata to make their work discoverable and shareable.

from: Joho the Blog – [berkman] Anil Dash on “The Web We Lost”

Some great reading this morning starting at How the Web is being body-snatched ~ Stephen’s Web through Doc Searls Weblog – How the Web is being body-snatched to the post with the above quote.

This quote really jumped out at me, I’ve loved the flickr API for a long time and used it for lots of fun. I enjoy Instagram too, for its easy, quick hit, and lightweight community.

I really hope that we are not drifting away from such valuable resources with apis and rss feeds to the easy and locked in.

One of the things that makes the huge gap between sites like flickr and facebook is who has access to data and how they access it. When you share on flickr you are doing something quite different, and potentially much more valuable than sharing on facebook or google+.

I hope that open never gets old.

Starlings roosting by Steven C Wilson Attribution-NoDerivs License

I’ve written several version of this post now, thinking about blogging, e-portfolios and CPD I am not particularly happy about this version but I don’t think I can get it clearer.

A while back I got a comment here from Joe which included:

Feels like usual suspects still blog or tweet interesting stuff
We need more teachers to confidently own this space and lay down some more positive challenges to learning community

The comment came in as I was reading a post by Geoff Cain Brainstorm in Progress: MOOCs and Connectivist Instructional Design:

What we noticed was that students started helping one another as much as we were helping students. One of the reasons for this was that each assignment was basically a detailed guide on how to use a particular tool, and each assignment asked the students to share their work with one another. They wouldn’t just sign up for Twitter; they would add the entire class to their account. They wouldn’t just sign up for a social bookmarking site; they would share their bookmarks with the class. Creating the community was built into the lessons. This class was not MOOC but it gave us the experience of letting the community, even the community outside of the classroom, drive the learning.

Geoff Cain also mentions DS106 along side moocs in this post (which I loved and highly recommend) and I think beginnings to provide an answer to Joe’s problem.

Is blogging an Answer?

When I started blogging about my classroom practice and educational ict, in the first flush of teacher blogging in Scotland, I was convinced that most teachers would see the value of blogging, grasp the usefulness of RSS and blogging would become normal. This didn’t happen, although blogging is firmly embedded in a minority of teachers’ cpd, it is limited to what Joe calls usual suspects.

The majority of teachers I talk to do not even seriously consider blogging as a cpd activity and I can’t see that changing easily. Blogs are still not really understood by a lot of teachers. I’ve been involved in a lot of training for glow e-portfolios and it has surprised me that few teachers read or understand blogs. What Geoff, ds106 and the Connectivist provide for and develop with their learners is community. This is the hard bit, our original bunch of ScotEduBloggers or the pedagoo folk have a great community, feel well connected and are open and welcoming to newcomers. I think more is needed. These sorts of community can still be intimidating to newcomers no matter how friendly.

When my class started blogging there didn’t seem to be too much of a problem getting views or comments, not many schools were blogging. I often wondered how this would go when it became more common. If everyone is blogging their professional development who will read all the posts? This could be solved by following ds106 or QuadBlogging and organising people into groups.

Another problem is that of ownership of spaces. There have been,attempts get teachers to share their experiences and expertise with other online, I made one that failed myself. I think part of the problem is that to get someone to got to a place not their own and jump through hoops to share is a big ask. Quadblogging, ds106 and some of the conectivist MOOCs allow folk to use their own spaces where they feel comfortable and use familiar tools.

Teaching Scotland’s Future – National Partnership Group

The word e-portfolio appears on 7 of the pages in the Teaching Scotland’s Future document by the National Partnership Group:

In turn, a single e-portfolio will be developed that will allow all teachers to document and record the outcomes of learning linked to the Professional Standards and the system of Professional Update being developed by the GTCS. It will be possible to access the e-portfolio through both Glow and myGTCS and Education Scotland and the GTCS will work together to ensure the e-portfolio is effective, well- designed and meets the needs of teachers.

and

Other stakeholders such as local authorities should also be consulted to investigate whether they have any specific requirements of the portfolio. The e- portfolio will be ready to use by all teachers in Scotland in advance of the start of the August 2013 academic year.

While I applaud the idea of teacher having a way to record their cpd online, and possibly share it with others, again I am not sure I have as much enthusiasm for a single e-portfolio. If we have learned one thing about online life and learning over the last few years it is the importance of personalisation and choice.

Some folk are already recording, documenting and sharing their learning, perhaps not linked to the Professional Standards but valuable anyway.

Blue Sky ds106 style

RSS Diagram by jrhode
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Perhaps we are at a point when things could change. At the moment there are over 70000 glow e-portfolios created using wordpress by pupils in Scottish schools. In a few years, those pupils now in S3 using blogs as eportfolios will reach Teacher Training (the ones that want to be teachers;-))

We will have a cohort of new students that have some understanding of blogging. Imagine:

  • On arrival at college these students create their own blog.
  • These blogs are aggregated into classes.
  • As the students move through their education their blogs (or categories of those blogs) are added to various aggregations.
  • The students are shown how to use a feed reader to view the aggregations that are interesting to them or for the classes they are currently involved in.
  • As they move into employment they have the opportunity to continue their blogs, these are aggregated into schools, clusters, local authorities.
  • When join in a CPD opportunity they can join that aggregation, follow it.
  • Aggregations can easily be set up by lectures, schools, CPD organisers, anyone.

University blogs would be compulsory at least for some of the course, profession not.

I think we already have the technology to do this. There are a few RSS aggregation tools, FeedWordpress, gRSShopper and River2 spring to mind.

For arguments sake, lets say we use FeedWordPress. Students or teachers could create blogs with any system they like as long as it had RSS feeds.

Using WordPress blogs with FeedWordPress anyone could build an aggregator, for example in college a lecturer would have an aggregator for their students, this would either pull in all posts of those students or ones with particular tags. The links to the posts and comments for the post are pointed to the original blog. The aggregator blog could then automatically add further tags. These aggregators could be themselves aggregated, all aggregators in a college or university pulled together for a site wide blog. Or someone with a particular interest, say a math lecturer could aggregate all the maths posts.

Each aggregated post points back to the original comments stay on the original posters blog. The bloggers have ownership of their blogs, part of the induction could be setting up a domain of their own or using free services.

The grouping would provide each blogger with a set of communities where they can work together, comment on each other’s posts a provide peer support.

Something like Pedagoo could be built by setting up an aggregating blog pulling in, again for arguments sake, posts tagged pedagoo from members blogs, I am presuming that it will not be too hard to have some sort semi automatic signup for aggregating blogs and there would be minimal maintenance needed.

For participants it will be much easier to contribute to groups just by tagging posts on their on blogs.

This system becomes what the users want it to, bit at a time in a loosely joined fashion, it is not owned by the system, the participants are the system. It is flexible ready to take advantage of new technology and serendipity. It is not reliant on any one player, holes are easy to fix, new alliances easy to make.

Most of these ideas are based on the work at the University of Mary Washington, some links.

We are probably at a moment when this is possible and fairly easy, glow blogs are beginning to be established, the idea of journaling cpd accepted, I wonder if there is any interested in a loose flexible system that gives ownership to participants?