Everyday open learning so unremarkable that it amazes me


Happened to look in on a blog for a course on Philosophy and Pop Culture at TRU. Saw a post that I thought was remarkable for a couple reasons.

A student had just posted some fresh reflections, though the course was over. He wrote: “I know that I no longer need to create new posts, but it seemed like this is the perfect place to post my current thoughts.”

This in itself is remarkable, though not so unusual. I suppose some would find it trite to note that such a thing would never happen in an LMS, even if the student was not locked out of the course environment as a matter of university policy at course’s end. Here, even in a shared course blog on an institutional WordPress install, this student felt a stake in this space, understood that it was a place for continued reflection and growth.

The student was exploring, in part, his ongoing responses to Andrew Wildman’s graphic novel Horizon. Educational bloggers will not be so surprised to see that Wildman offered a comment on the blog in response. Again, would that happen in an LMS? If mediums communicate messages, this exchange illustrates that the student’s thoughts and words have value. The student is not merely engaging in a simulation of intellectual discourse, but taking their thoughts into the world.

I couldn’t resist Tweeting this exchange when I saw it. Which again, not so surprisingly elicited yet another comment from the most thoughtful and engaged commenter I have ever known.

These sorts of things happen all the time over on UMW Blogs, but we are still building out our infrastructure and culture of open online learning here at TRU. I hope these stories become commonplace here soon.

Another common manifestation of open learning went down in my personal network yesterday. That it happened without really seeming all that remarkable at the time is hitting me as amazing right now. (Was there something in those brownies I just ate?)


I’m doing a little bit of preparation for next Monday’s VideoCamp here at TRU. Since I am an utter neophyte at video work (thankfully we have a cohort of other facilitators lined up), the only “teaching” I might do is work through Popcorn Maker with any participants who just want a simple tool for basic augmentation and remixing of online video. I remembered that Clint Lalonde had organized workshops using Popcorn, and then remembered that I am lazy and shameless, so I fired Clint a Twitter DM asking if there were any tutorials he would recommend.

Because Clint is a better open educator than me, he responded publicly in case his pointer would be of use to somebody else.

Then he widened the scope.

An aforementioned open educational hero caught wind of the discussion and interjected with important cautions that probably saved me and the VideoCamp participants some pain…

…and also shared a cool use case.

Chris Lott brought another vital contributor into the discussion, …

…and wasn’t I happy to make Christen’s acquaintance:

Popcorn HTML5 framework? I didn’t even know what that was. Whoa.

Then some more of the people Clint flagged earlier started to chime in:

Among the tutorials these exchanges turned up was this brilliant overview from Miriam Posner. Licensed CC, so I think I will incorporate it into the VideoCamp site. I thought should give Miriam a huzzah and a heads-up on my intention to pilfer (she’s cool with it), and was not entirely surprised to see that CogDog had beat me to the comments field.

Again, these things happen all the time in open online learning circles. But I still get asked “how do you find the time to engage social media”? It repays the time investment so many times over — in this case with great resources, pointers to new experts for me to follow, and a reminder that I am part of a collaborative community full of generous and gifted people. So before I dive into the VideoCamp site to build on all these wonderful contributions, I thought I would take a moment to celebrate just how amazingly unremarkable these sorts of interactions can be.