John Seely Brown Second Life slideOriginally uploaded by openlearn2007I can barely hear him because I’m sitting at the back of the room. Just realised he is talking about how to get out of here in case of a fire. So, just some housekeeping rules so far. This guy is perhaps the chair? Oh yes he is, here comes John Seely Brown who supposedly does stuff on technology and on learning. Ann was saying earlier that his talk should be good.Oh good he has a big voice! He sounds American – “Bringing coals from Newcastle” is his analogy to being here at Openlearn or is it in the UK?What on earth is Cartesian learning? – “I think therefore I am”. Anyway, it seems to be something that you don’t want to have – pretty much an information transmissive learning view. He is moving towards the social view of learning as being the correct kind … “we participate therefore we are” … this type of learning is messier. So, does this mean that open-learn should work towards being a social learning place – but to me at the moment it seems a lot more individual learning unless the MSG tools are used extensively.According to him collaborative study groups is the best as he says the “the social construction of understanding is real”. He mentions the real ones on the campus and also on the virtual worlds such as second life (my pciture is a bit blurred) and talking about being linked in suh as on blogs facebook and mypace and LinkedIn.This is an interesting concept “Can we turn everyone into being both a learners and a teacher?” He indicates that nothing clarifies better than explaining … indeed but in individual learning when someone reads Openlearn materials they’re being a teacher and a learner to themselves as they have to explain these things to themselves in order to understand it. So, here they are also making self-explanations, perhaps through groups, deeper self-explanations or more pointed questions can be asked meaning that the student has to self-explained better or maybe in a group it is no longer self-explain but group-explain?I missed something, he’s onto theatelier form of learning not sure what this is … but it has something to do with an architecture studio and about putting work-in-progress in a public forum – is this still learning or researching? Ahh … he says about beyond textbook learning – Openlearn material as it stands is quite textbook-like …He is talking about trying to “learning to be” rather than “learning about” and this comes about through productive inquiry – but how do they do this? As most materials are textbook in nature, does this mean something more like problem-based learning?Something interesting here – technology enabled active learning (teal) – is this in anyway related to problem-based learning but with technology instead? I think it is sort of problem-based learning, in the electricity and magnetism course the students have a box of electronics things in front of them, I’m guessing they got to put it together? Ahh, they want the students to learn and teach others but the problem is assessment as students are like crabs basically they just want to keep the other down and not teach the other students … so, marking on a curve assessment is thrown out.He talks about students getting remote access through the Faulkes telescope project and getting data which they can analyse … hmm… sort of a remote observation huh?He mentions another project called the Decameron web for learning history I think, in which students can engage and critique papers as well as real researchers. He indicates that this web encourages the students have a small window into the scholarship of this field (basically learn how to take criticism constructively and argue your point).So, are all these projects he is mentioning how open learning should really be rather than how OpenLearn as envisage it as providing OU materials to the students on the web and hoping they form a community and engage in the materials?Oh … I like this …. He says that tinkering as learning platform … therefore when we tinker with our printers or computers or cars and we come up with parts which we have no idea how to put back together … then we are learning (probably how to destroy stuff :D). But guess with warranty and guarantee – tinkering is not allowed. But OpenLearn allows you to tinker with the materials … change it to suit your purpose and tear it apart and think about it. He thinks that open-source materials are quite like tinkering.Life in the digital world is about cultural participation: tinkering, building, remixing and sharing … its about consuming and producing at the same times such as on youtube, facebook etc. (forgot the others he mentioned!)Alright back on … was playing around with Flickr to deal with my photos … so missed some stuff (one should never have internet at your disposal!) But somethings I picked up that the open-source materials were good for tinkering and there were a lot of web 2.0 stuff that can be used. So, now he is onto the brewing perfect storm of opportunity … tying in things such as OER, eScience, eHumanities and web 2.0 technology and learning along with open participatory learning (oh great – missed that as well … my phone started to ring – how embarrassing!!!).He wants the learning to move from a manufacturing economy to that of a creator economy … there is an in between on that is called consumer society … is that where we are at now?He is talking about now tapping the abundant digital resources for informal/informal learning – OpenLearn is highlighted there.Can’t see the graph on about a long tail distribution of the networked age … it looks very red! … but that is about all I can see… ahh … think he is talking about storage … perhaps digital storage is almost limitless? Whilst physical storage is more difficult … not quite sure what’s he talking about – I’m making up what I think he’s saying – but getting my interpretation based on his example of Amazon trying to service the long tail (not sure who that is!) – is it an niche then? I’m getting so confused – probably one should not have phones ringing or playing with Flickr to follow a discussion :D.I think the long tail is the rise of an ecology of learning – the short tail (??) must be current learning trends?Ok something on active-blending and now something he says that is radical … about stocks and flows (don’t understand the stocks so much but the flows talk about the participating in productive inquiry – I think he likes this – and also situational based tacit – have no idea what this second one is!).He is saying the flows are what we need in a rapidly changing world – are we really changing that rapidly? This is getting a bit long now … the post and the talk … it’s pass 10:30 now … I could do with a cup of tea and a biscuit :D. Oh good, he’s done … we got questions now or are we going to coffee … oh questions are being put off … although it would be nice for the questions – I think the lure of tea might be stronger :D.I think my penchant for individual and cognitive learning is showing up in this post. 

Ok – we have now really kicked off the first session with Andy introducing the conference and building up to John Seely Brown’s keynote. John has gone for the title “Open Learning Broadly Construed.” John wrote a major review on the Open Participatory Learning Initiative”.He started off by stating that this feels a bit like “coals to Newcastle”. I think therefore I am becomes “We participate therefore we are”. Understanding is socially constructed. Claim that the sense of the study group is where real learning happens – with a match a match from study groups. One of the simplest this to do with second life is set up study groups in second life. E.g of reaching out from University of Michigan to the social networks of their students.Learning is not the same as knowledge so the claim is not to ignore the generation aspect but to focus on the learning. The example he used is the architectural studio as “atelier form of learning”. In the studio work in progress is made public and feedback is very open. Academic world is driven much more by privacy. I have been greatly interested in the use of patterns in architecture and I wonder if there is a connection to be made with the wider practice of architects.]Learning in this sort of environment as enculturation into a practice. With the learning about as the explicit tip of the iceberg with the tacit bit below representing the learning to be. MIT did try to make one of its electricity and magnetism into a “technology enabled active learning”. The impact was on both teaching and assessment – to remove the competition element. Another e.g. is the open use of remote telescopes – which has impacted on the way that the sky is studied.Do we understand our kids? But do we even understand how we learn and learnt? This led into a praise of tinkering and the playing with technology. John’s observation of tinkering ending in the 1980’s cognitively impenetrable technology. With a return in 1995 in gaming and open source – and a more gender neutral version of tinkering as well. Tinkering is the foundation of tacit learning (Polyani book – Tacit Knowledge). A position of “attending from” rather than attending to.  This from comes from connecting with internal knowledge triggered by tinkering. The digital examples for ht young generation range from youtube through the modding to telling your own story in a personal Truman show.Open Source as participatory learning platform – the enculturation required to join a community being a key element. PrinciplesWriting code to be read (and so it is tinkerable)Engagement through useful additionsSocial capital mattersRemix looking at amateur anime. Building the back story to support professional anime. This all links into Web2.0 and the Brewing Perfect Storm of all of these things coming together. John then summed this up as Open Participatory Learning Ecosystem. John and Dan has now dropped the Infrastructure label (as in the past I was cited as an opponent of that label I have to approve). A plea for feedback loops galore – and the opening up of research to answer the questions about how this all come together through intertwining (knowledge creation, learning and mentoring). E.g. all major research should look at speenind part of their grant to open these up to student participation.This can also be viewed at the society level as a move from scarcity to abundance taking us through manufacturing, to consumer and on to creator economy. A neat link was then made to the long tail of niche communities. The link is then to the passionate about topics – those who want to learn and do more. Education actually has lived in this area for ages but for those who come. Now in the Internet the community probably exists for all the niches that you can thin of, if you can find them.Three big ideas to end:1. Active blending learning v researching. Getting people to cross over.2. Radical change of point of view – from stocks to flow. This is a view of a much less stable world for learning. Learning 2.0 – learning on demand.3. Creation becomes re-creation. Move to a culture of learning. This would then thrive on participatory lifelong learning.If we can pull this off then we could actually address continuous/lifelong learning.

johnseelybrown.jpgOriginally uploaded by openlearn2007My first feeling upon seeing John stand up to speak was one of relief. He has a loud voice. I’ve ended up right at the back of the room and couldn’t hear the chair introducing John at all. Part of the reason for this is the number of bloggers and the sound of clacking keys 🙂Introduces the idea of a Cartesian view of learning “I think therefore I am” from which he progresses to the delivery model of learning, cultivating strict rows of learning.However he introduces the notion of the social view of learning “we participate therefore we are”. Understanding as socially constructed. The emphasis is that it is understanding rather than knowledge that we construct. We are having conversation with the work, learning in and through interactions with others and the world.I really like this introduction, and the slides he displays contain really good pictures that illustrate what he is saying. He moves smoothly onto social networks across communities and friends – blogs, facebook, myspace and linkedin and asks whether we can turn everyone into being both a learner and a teacher.Sadly, his voice has dropped and I’m having much more trouble hearing him. However the slides are good. Now we have a slide entitled learning as supported through participatory architectures and I suspect that this is the point where we may start to see links with the OpenLearn project.He’s talking about the atelier form of learning – an architecture studio, and how all work is made public and suggests that this is a powerful learning environment. Interesting because the reason many people give for not participating in shared online learning environments such as group blogs or VLEs is a reluctance to make their ideas public – a fear of being wrong, or of exposing their ideas to everyone. I wonder if we can learn from the atelier approach…He suggests that we reverse the traditional flow of education, where we “learn about” first then “learn to be”. The reverse is learning to be first which is more engaging and interesting followed by learning about.Describes a course at MIT which adopted the atelier approach by grouping the students into tables of 8 or so with the prof talking for 10 mins then walking around the tables. However this didn’t work as expected. First, the traditional sage on the sage approach didn’t work. Then there was the problem of assessment. What incentive was there for students to collaborate if they were still assessed individually.Then he talks about the Faulkes telescope project, where students run real experiments with a master and then pool and analyse their results. This works better as the students were participating in real research and discovering real results for themselves and sharing them with the wider group. I think this is much more of a model of the way to go.So, I wonder how he is planning to tie all this in with the OpenLearn project. It seems to me that OpenLearn with it’s customisable content is part-way there, but is there anything that inhibits participation…or is there anything that particularly encourages participation? John is now talking about new ways for students to engage in research and new forms of peer review. But I wonder where the motivation comes from. Perhaps the students he is referring to are already on assessed courses so this is maybe an extension of what they are already doing.He’s now moved onto talk about modern kids with their 🙂 mobile phones etc and wonders what creates meaning for them, or for us (the ancients  ). He suggests that tinkering could be viewed as a learning platform. I think he is right, but only for certain people. Many people just want things “to work” without any effort.He now paints a lovely idyllic picture of life in the digital age, where a culture of participation, tinkering, building, remixing and sharing abounds with a culture of sharing that is so fundamental to the concept of open educational resources.Talks about the OpenSource movement where code was written to be read. I have to say that in my experience of engineers, I have sometimes wondered whether they ever intend for code to be read, but I expect OS coders are different :). Describes it as a form of distributed collaboration and then moves on to discus remix and mashup which he describes as “creative tinkering and the play of imagination”. I agree with this and I think that part of the reason for the takeup of these techniques is that they are relatively straightforward to achieve with immediate and visible results (if you mashup locations with googlemaps and images you get a very tangible outcome). This is both creative and imaginative.He talks about Web 2.0 as a new form of media and illustrates this with a nice tag-cloud style slide where the more key elements appear larger (blogs, FlickR, Google etc). Mentions a fundamental trend from scarcity to abundance, where we’re moving into a new kind of culture of co-creation and participation which fits perfectly into the thinking of OpenLearn. What an enormous shame – no time for questions. I always find the discussion between audience and presenter really stimulating.