• conference,  GO-GN,  oer,  post-OU

    One last job…

    Next week I head to Cork for OER24. While I may get invited to conferences once I leave the OU, this could well be my last one, and will definitely be my final one as GO-GN director and OU employee. That’s right, before I head off into the sunset, I’m going to do One Last Job, what could go wrong? In the manner of all One Last Jobs, a crack team has been assembled to pull it off. We have the GO-GN squad, running a workshop the day before the conference for a small team of explosive experts OER Researchers. As I’ve probably mentioned before, working on the GO-GN project…

  • AI,  higher ed,  VLE

    Don’t you want me? Questions to ask of new AI-VLEs

    In my last post I was doing a backwards glance prompted by the Accenture-Udacity deal. In this one, I’ll look forwards. Apart from the MOOC angle, the other key aspect of the announcement was the investment in AI-enhanced learning environments. In terms of learning environments, the VLE/LMS has been the main player since around 2002. Prior to this there was a mixed economy, combining different commercial solutions, home spun set ups, open web tools. It was both a delightful cottage industry and something of a wild west. From the turn of the century the shift to an institutional wide, enterprise solution became inexorable until by the mid-2000s pretty much all…

  • AI,  edtech,  MOOC

    Don’t look back in anger (or anything else)

    Because I was too busy indulging in self-pity in my last post I forgot to blog about Udacity being acquired by Accenture to build a platform to take advantage of AI, blah, blah. Audrey Watters taking a rare foray back into ed tech to say “I told you so” reminded me to blog something. Audrey says it better, but that’s never stopped me before… There are lots of takeaways from this tale. Here are some that occur to me: Self-Reflection is the real unicorn. Investors like to talk about unicorn companies, but it seems the real unicorn (as in, it doesn’t exist) is any sense of self-reflection or humility in…

  • OU,  post-OU

    Follow the biscuits

    There’s a bit of a mini-rant following but before we get to my ejection of the toys from the pram, I want to set out a general principle. If you want to know what people really value then follow what they do with the small scale stuff. All of those Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who want to disrupt school, or recommend dropping out of college? Watch where they send their kids to be educated. It’ll probably be some Montessori type institution with lots of face to face interaction, and then it’ll be an Ivy League university. As I’ve mentioned before, biscuits provide a useful metric for revealing what an institution values.…

  • AI

    Welcome to the Wonkalarity

    If you live in the UK you will probably have seen the story last week about the Willy Wonka Chocolate Experience in Glasgow. It promised a rich immersive experience, but turned out to be a disappointing, depressing warehouse with some bad props. We get one of these stories every year usually about a Santa’s grotto which is, well, less than might be expected. These stories often go viral, the mismatch between promise and reality is ripe for memes. This one I think offers an interesting prompt for considering issues around AI. For a start the advertising of the experience used AI generated images, so there is a good example about…

  • Books,  monthly roundup,  Music,  post-OU

    February 24 roundup

    (photo shows Irwin DeVries, Audrey Watters, Brian Lamb and Rajiv Jhangiani in 2015) As February comes to an end, I feel I am entering the wind down phase of my Open University career, with departure scheduled for June. The replacement for my role on the Open Programme is being recruited, we’re planning for my last GO-GN workshop at OER24, and I’m handing over editorship of JIME. It leaves one in a slight liminal space mentally and work wise – I’m busy doing handover, and continuing workload, but I’m not required for planning things that will take place after I leave. It’s not so much that I have less work, but…

  • higher ed,  onlinepivot

    10 Lessons from Apocalypse literature

    As you probably know I spend too much/nowhere near enough time reading horror fiction. I know some people feel that’s kind of juvenile, but after years of challenging myself to read difficult literature, I decided to just enjoy reading. Plus genre literature gets a bad press and people are generally snooty about it. All of which is a precursor to try and justify the number of horror related analogies cropping up in these posts. Speaking of which… I’ve been on an apocalypse literature riff recently – you know the sort of thing, zombies, vampires, ecocide, virus, mutant insects, more zombies. These were nearly all written pre-Covid and its interesting to…

  • edtech,  Film

    Ed tech indie horror

    I’ve been reading some interesting takes on horror recently: the meta-fiction of Native American author Stephen Graham-Jones; the influential feminist analysis of horror exploitation movies Men, Women and Chainsaws by Carol Clover; a personal account of the importance of horror in Kris Rose’s Final Girl: How Horror Movies Made Me a Better Feminist; and The Black Guy Dies First, Robin Means Coleman’s analysis of black representation in horror. And it got me thinking about analogies to ed tech. I know, as usual. First of all, the horror take… It has to be acknowledged up front that horror is often problematic – slasher films centre on the male gaze; women tend…

  • Books,  metaphor

    Dangers of tech metaphors in nature

    In Metaphors of Ed Tech I suggested that we should approach metaphors drawn from nature with caution, writing: “it is worth emphasising that metaphors drawn from nature are probably the most prevalent, and the most dangerous, of metaphors. Making appeals to what is deemed ‘natural’ and applying it to any form of human endeavour has led to justifications for social Darwinism, misogyny and repression, with the implication that certain states are naturally occurring and therefore inevitable.” But the opposite is also true – we need to be wary of technological metaphors applied to nature. I came to appreciate this because I’ve been reading Merlin Sheldrake’s intriguing overview of fungal life…

  • GO-GN,  higher ed

    Meticulous informality of GO-GN

    A few years ago, I used the term ‘meticulous informality‘ to describe what I liked about the ALT conferences. Maren has blogged how it’s a term we’ve discussed since occasionally on dog walks. Both parts of the term are equally important for participants in an event: informality encourages participation and suggests equality; meticulous means care and support. One without the other is not sufficient – just meticulous can be stuffy and hierarchical, and solely informal can be chaotic and confusing. Without it being an explicit intention, it captures our approach to GO-GN also. Having just hosted the largest GO-GN workshop in Edmonton, I know how much time and care goes…

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