Rise up and take the power back

What a great start to the new year being invited to attend the MELSIG event at Nottingham Trent University to talk about DS106. MELSIG is an unfunded special interest group for those interested in media-enhanced-learning, and what is astonishing considering the group rely on the goodwill of UK universities to support their gatherings, that there have been around 26 or 27 in recent years. The theme of the event was DIGITAL STORYTELLING so it was clear it was going to be one magnificent collision of two like-minded communities, and it certainly was.

I was so thrilled that our #western106 cowboys giddy-up’d and participated in the special Robin Hood-themed Daily Create on Thursday 7th, and equally the #melsigntu crew joined in to congratulate the Daily Create on its 4th Birthday on Friday 8th. How better to help explain what DS106 is all about than getting folk to CREATE.


Make Art Dammit!

Michael Smith Flickr CC BY-2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbransons/6129203378

The rising….

For the first time in a long time I was struck by a moment of optimism. I’ve worked in open education for ten years trying to inspire and inform the HE sector as a whole and also various institutions. Many like me work in our own time and self-finance meetings and conferences – I consider it my bit for charity. And here was an entirely new community – MELSIG – all reaching for similar goals. It dawned on me that we’ve got a great opportunity to start doing this together.

The communities….

#DS106 – pushing the boundaries of the possibilities of learning on the internet through digital storytelling

#MELSIG – pushing the boundaries and possibilities of educating through digital media

#OPENEDSIG – applying philosophies and principles of openness to enhance education opportunities and practices (special interest group of the Association of Learning Technology)

#UKOER – the open education community that grew from the HEFCE-funded UK OER programme – still exploring open practice, open educational resources and many involved in open courses and MOOCs

#OER16 – the UK open education conference community that extends beyond the annual event

#OPENED16 – the global open education conference community that extends well beyond the annual event

The common ground…

  • A common sense of wanting better education and fairer access to learning through digital media and open practice
  • Exceedingly giving communities willing to share ideas and support new participants in developing their own individual approaches
  • Self-governing through the looseness of connections offered by social media

But is that enough?

I feel like a pin-ball at times bouncing around these groups and I’m hearing the same thing. We need to RECLAIM – what and from who? We need to MAINSTREAM – what and how? There is an invisible enemy in the state / governments / institutions. We need ETHICAL COMMON GROUND – what are the parameters?

So I think we do have a clear opportunity to really reclaim the good quality education that students and open learners deserve – not the content delivery and assessment model that is the road we are being forced along because we can measure that present it in league tables. We all know we can offer something much better and more genuine, and dammit, just more exciting and engaging for those that wish to learn.

We can do it using the technology that is easy for us, the notion of sharing and repurposing openly licensed content into accessible formats is simply cheaper, but we are locked-in to IT systems and infrastructure in our own institutions.

I think our STICKING POINT is our view that we need to go back and influence our institutions to create a SECTOR to deliver this. What we see at the moment is educators and technologists and librarians working outside the boundaries of their colleges and universities – researching in their own time, self-financing, sharing materials and running open courses, and generally getting stuck into the education that they want but cannot deliver in their own place. Rather than going to our institutions, maybe we should make them come to us?

The idea?

How do we link as a MEGA-COMMUNITY of digital openness where we can work together to make education as we want to deliver it irresistible?

  • We can digitally connect but physical meeting is important – how about cross-community invites to events and conferences?
  • How about developing a shared mission – capture our overarching vision and put some loose goals in place?
  • Start to gather the evidence and research that shows our approaches are effective – we can share back to influence our institutional decision makers.
  • Think more politically and strategically to by-pass the institutions?



Rise up and take the power back
It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack

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