Coming to Open Ed 2010? Join us for the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival

November is turning out to be a pretty stellar month – not only do I have the privilege of attending Open Education 2010 in Barcelona, but by lucky coincidence (and partly by design), that same week the Mozilla foundation is hosting its Drumbeat Learning, Freedom and the Web Festival, also in Barcelona.If you are already attending Open Ed, I strongly urge you to consider extending your stay by a couple of days to participate. (it’s Barcelona for crying out loud – what hardship!) Open Ed attendees can get in for a greatly reduced fee ($65 using the coupon code which you’ll get mailed as an Open Ed attendee).

As much as I have a strong connection with the Open Ed conference, I must admit I’m pretty stoked about the prospects for the Drumbeat Festival, which promises to be a bit more hands-on and more focused on open *learning* – not just OER or Open Education as envisioned by formal institutions. The program already looks fantastic – I am hoping to add a bit about my own passion, using client side/browser-based techniques to augment web experiences with open educational resources, but even without that the program covers many of my interests and approaches to expanding the reach of open education.

One of Mozilla’s main goals: to connect the people on the cutting edge of open education with technologists who are building the open web. Why? Because the way the web evolves will shape the future of education, and the future of education will shape the web. Radical educators and technologists need each other to keep things going in the right direction. This festival, especially on the heels of Open Ed 2010, offers a huge chance to catalyze this movement and create even more connections. I hope we’ll see you there. – SWL

How to participate in the Open Ed conference even if you can’t get to Vancouver

So the Open Ed conference has begun and I am frankly overwhelmed to see the 200 or so amazing folks who have come together in Vancouver around “Open Education.” But this movement is far larger than that, it’s a global movement, and we are doing our best as organizers to help folks who couldn’t make the journey participate in various ways. In addition to streaming every session live via the conference uStream feeds, many folks are following along on the extensive twitter coverage via the #opened09 tag.

And that’s not all – I am SO chuffed as an organizer to see this community of network learners creating their own ways of interacting, without any help or coordination.

If you’ve found yourself accessing any of these, we’d love if you’d consider adding yourself to the list of “virtual attendees” – both as a way for people here to connect with you, and also to help demonstrate to our sponsors how the conference has had some impact outside of the immediate physical attendees. And please, let s know if there’s anything we can do to help improve your experience, you are an important part of this community and conference too. – SWL

3 Travel Scholarships Available for Open Ed & Other Various Conf News

Hopefully you are already following the Open Ed 2009 conference news feed and this will be just so much cruft, but if not I thought it worthwhile to re-post here in Edtechpost the fact that, due to some very generous sponsors, we are able to offer 3 travel scholarships to Open Education in Vancouver, August 12-14, 2009.

I should also note that the deadlines for getting the secured hotel room rates are fast approaching, and a gentle reminder that we will have limited space for the (included in the reg fee) Barbeque-to-end-all-Barbeques on the Wednesday night, so if you want to come, getting your conference registration in as soon as possible will make that entirely more likely.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming… – SWL

August in Vancouver? Hmmm… Open Education 2009 Call for Papers

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath, well the wait is finally over – the Call for Papers for the 6th annual Open Education Conference (held for the past 5 years in Logan, Utah but this year moving to beautiful Vancouver BC, Canada) is now open.

I am pretty stoked about this, in no small part because I am helping to organize it with a few of my favourite people. I’m also excited because of some of the things we’re trying with the program; as you’ll notice in the CFP, we’ve introduced the notion of strands, the one I am most excited about being the StartUp strand. The Open Ed conference has never had any problem attracting leaders in the movement and encouraging a deep level of discourse around the topic, but I cannot imagine what it might have felt to be someone from a school not already immersed in OER to attend. Well I hope this strand (plus the number of great efforts currently underway to help people start their own Open initiatives) will attract those newcomers and catalyze another round of folks to start sharing openly.

So please, submit a proposal! Registration information is also coming quickly soon, I promise. Hope to see you on here in August. – SWL

PLE Workshop/Mashing up your PLE session

Yesterday it was my IMMENSE privilege to co-facilitate a pre-conference workshop with Jared Stein and Chris Lott on “Weaving your own PLE.” I think for all three of us it was an experiment, developed at a distance through Google docs, wikispaces and a couple of Skype calls. Ultimately, it is up to the participants to judge if it was a success, and the proof will be in how many of them continue on with what they started over that day, but it felt like it went pretty well.

My contribution was a 2 hour session on “Mashing up your PLE.” We had decided to split it into 2 streams, and the (suggested self-)selelction criteria was prior experience reading and writing blogs (and, sort of as an obvious corollary, awareness of RSS.)

(As an aside – we are WELL aware of the issues that surround this approach. We made every effort to emphasize: personal choice; that PLEs involve people and resources not on the network; the PEOPLE are critical, and that they need to grow their OWN networks, not adopt someone else’s; etc. But our goal was to get people who were not swimming in the flow, but who will increasingly be met by students and colleagues who ARE, to start, somewhere, anywhere. To take the plunge, with as many supports as we could muster, in the context of a pre-conference f2f workshop, to sustain it long term.)

I picked 4 “mashup” skills or techniques that I think can help people who already partly immersed in networked learning to be more effective networked learners:

It was a lot to get through in under 2 hours. I know I blew through a lot of stuff and that I often speak too quickly when I present, partly out of nerves, partly for the same reason that I am an exuberant gesticulator – this stuff gets me excited! But I did see lots of eyes lighting up: feed2js always blows people away, you can see the wheels turning of how they can use it; the google spreadsheet “importHTML=” trick works like magic, and while people don’t immediately grok how this is SO much more powerful than importing a page in Excel, when you show them the “More Options” publishing options suddenly you can see the penny drop; I think I sold a few people on “constrained search engines” but it’s Google Coop On-the-Fly that really gets the jaws dropping; and finally, both OER Recommender and the WorldCat/Amazon greasemonkey script provide pretty vivid examples of how you can bring educational resources directly INTO your everyday web experience with NO EXTRA EFFORT!

My only regret is that in my current position (and in my current practice) I typically only get to do these kind of sessions once before I move on. Which is a shame, because in this particular case I have a ton of ideas of how to improve it. For instance, taking a leave out of Alan (and many others’) book, I realized that if I had connected there 4 pieces in more of a story, it would make it more compelling. And in terms of making it educationally more effective, I think that forming the room into small groups, showing them a number of different techniques in each of these areas, and then setting them a problem to solve together (e.g. “figure out how to scrape this site. Feel free to use Google spreadsheets, Yahoo pipes, Dapper, or any other method you think will work”) would make this way more memorable and effective. But ultimately require more time.

Anyways, this was a ton of fun to work on if only to once again get a chance to work through some ideas and practice of my own, which is ultimately what keeps driving me to do new presentations each time, they are one of my only “teaching” opportunities I have right now and allow me to work out stuff that I’d otherwise not get a chance to dig into. – SWL 

Planet WCET’08…is a lifeless asteroid

Partly as an exercise in personal autonomy (we’re doing a workshop on “Personal Learning Environments” so what better way than to walk the talk) and partly just in a fit of pique that the conference itself wasn’t already doing something, I created this netvibes page to aggregate the activity from the on-going WCET conference in Phoenix. It took about 30 minutes to put it together (except for the scraping of the conference schedule, which took 3 minutes once Tony Hirst showed me how to do it with the =importHtml function in Google spreadsheets – thanks Tony!)

I sent it round WCET and everyone seemed impressed, and we showed it in our PLE Workshop yesterday, but alas I fear I have given birth to a non-life supporting planet. You see – there is NO CONFERENCE WIFI. I am sitting in a session right now on “Disruptive Innovations” with about 30 people in it, and mine is the only laptop out (N.B. I was ‘permitted’ to use the secret back-door account, which despite my desire to protest in solidarity, I cannot help but make use of.) So the lingr backchannel that Chris set up is likely not going to see a lot of action, nor don’t expect a whole lot of tweets on the #wcet08 channel (despite the fact that there are at least 8 active twitter users here that I know of, plus many whom I don’t know yet). Sigh. Anyways, for those at the conference who do get online through the overpriced connections in their room, here you go, Planet WCET’08. Feels a bit like Pluto… – SWL

Notes and Thoughts from Open Education 2008

Got back late on Friday night after spending most of last week in sunny Logan, Utah at the 2008 Open Education Conference. My notes are here for anyone who might care. As usual, the conference program itself was FAR outstripped by the hallway conversations and afterhour sessions, especially the chance to not just finally meet (after years of unabashed fanboy-dom) but spend a few days talking with Tony Hirst. And working most of Thursday night with one of my favourite people mashing up interviews from the conference attendees as they talked about their history with OER was lots of fun (even if the organizers ended up shelving the results due to a malfunctioning sound system.)

I won’t spend a lot of time commenting on the program except to say the one thing I was heartened to see was a renewed emphasis on getting the production of open content into the normal workflow and (and funding channels) of instructors and institutions. This clearly has to happen if we are going to move away from the $10-25K/year/course “publishing” model that seems all to prevalent in many of the OCW projects we heard about last week.

And a final note – next years’ conference is moving to Vancouver at UBC! There isn’t a site to point you too yet, but I can assure you, you will not want to miss it 😉 Much more to follow on that topic in the months to come… – SWL

Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange 2008

Got an email today from someone at Utah Valley State College asking me if I would place an ad here on edtechpost for their upcoming Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange conference. I told them that I do not accept advertising, but given that the conference is FREE I told them I would at least point to it in a post.

So if you are down Utah-ways June 5-6, 2008, consider dropping by. I know from experience there are some very smart people at UVSC (as well as the sponsoring Utah Education Network) and if the conference archives are anything to go on, it should be worthwhile. – SWL

Web2ForDev conference

This post is mostly for other OpenEd 2007 participants who will hopefully see it if Technorati ever gets its act together and finds my posts.

A note of thanks is due to Ismael Peña-López who is conference blogging this meeting currently taking place right now in Rome. It seemed like ti might be of some interest to the OER producers at OpenEd 2007 given how many of the conversations here have ended up around the topic of bringing the OERs to the users where they are. This link will help you catch up on news coming out of that conference. – SWL

Attending Learning Impact 2007 – Reworked Schedule for Tuesday Strands

Google Docs & Spreadsheets – Learning Impact 2007 – Tuesday Strands

I am in Vancouver attending the IMS Learning Impact (formerly Alt-i Lab) conference until Wednesday. The conference goes until Thursday but I am giving a talk at the BCLA conference as well as visiting with Brian at UBC so will miss the last day.

So far it has been about par for the course for a ‘biggish’ educational technology conference. Stunningly dull keynotes but lots of great conversations with some very smart people, in truth really the reason I am here.

Yet what’s frustrating to me is that for a group dedicated to using networks and computers for learning, there is no innovation going on in how the conference itself is conducted. There is no online directory of attendees (at least not one I can find), no apparent backchannnel or other ways for attendees to network digitally. Which is why I am posting this here. Above is a link to a reworked schedule for today, done in Google docs, which shows the parallel strands as, well, parallel strands, not spearated on individual pages like on the website. Uggh! There are actually quite a few sessions of interest, but instead of having to flip back and forth, you can just see the strands side-by-side and decide where you want to be. Hardly innovative, but apparently nobody thought to do it. I used Excel’s “import data from the web” capabilities (which if you’ve never tried, provides another great way to scavange data for mashups) and then simply imported that doc into Google docs. Easy peasy. Here’s hoping foor some good sessions for the rest of the day! – SWL