Academic output as collateral damage

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Learning on Screen conference, which was hosted at the OU, with the title of 'Academic output as collateral damage.' The talk arose from two recent events: the first was the public engagement day at the OU, which I felt was a bit old media and didn't really address the idea of academics producing digital outputs as part of their everyday practice. Jonathan Sanderson commented on 'public engagement as collateral damage', which was too good a phrase not to pinch. The second was the slidecast I produced for George Siemens and Dave Cormier's course, which both explored these issues a bit more and was also an example of the type of output I had in mind.

The (poor audio quality) slidecast is below:

My main points were that you can view higher education as a long tail content production system. And if you are producing this stuff as a by-product of what you do anyway then a host of new possibilities open up. You can embrace unpredictability – which if you are spending £1000s on a TV series you don't want, but online unpredictability is a good thing, it's where all the innovation comes from. But most importantly I think it means we can do things we couldn't do before – George and Dave's open course is an example of this and we've only just begun to explore the possibilities that this new relationship with content affords.


  1. Emma says:

    just wanted to say thank you for the presentation at the BUFVC conference yesterday. I would have led a standing ovation, but I was too chicken! To me, the creative self-expression at the heart of learning as a process was demonstrated so well by what you did.

  2. Martin says:

    Hi Emma
    thanks very much. I wish you had led a standing ovation, I’ve never had one before!

  3. Hi Martin
    Tech issue, when I ran the collateral damage slideshare presentation, the slides were out of sync. Didn’t really matter, and not sure if it could be my browser at fault…
    Comment on substance. You remark at one point that the course you joined which was posted on the internet, asked people to join and then asked “strangers” for contributions was a new idea. Well, in some ways it similar to lecturing practice in some Universities 200 years ago (maybe more). I think then lecturers asked for contributions from the audience: popular lecturers were well off…. Elsewhere, asking for contributions is common in Second Life to support the creative sims built there by residents and resident groups.

  4. Martin
    Just saw your twitter comment about the sync disappearing…I wonder what happened. These kind of tech failures can put the ‘amateur’ off.
    Thanks for the audio anyway:)

  5. Martin says:

    Thanks both – Slideshare seemed to lose the synchronisation. I’ve redone it now and it seems ok.
    @Martin – I take your point about contributions, but I think what’s different here is that they can get these from world experts, such as David Wiley as well as the course participants. This is partly because of the internet as delivery mode, but also because the threshold for producing content has lowered. This means David, or I, can quickly produce something, for free, and without the input from others. I think it is this combination of network plus low threshold to produce multi-media content which is a game changer.

  6. Jim says:

    And if you are producing this stuff as a by-product of what you do anyway then a host of new possibilities open up. You can embrace unpredictability
    As with so many things, you succinctly bring the importance of the production fo stuff as a by-product of the process, rather than the packaging of the process itself. And that is what my experience has been in terms of the long tail and content produced as a part of a class becoming a steady resource via Google searches and links. The unpredictability of search and discovery is as fascinating as anything happening on line, but seems so huge to even beign unpacking. I’m hoping Tony Hirst will show me how to use google analytics to make sense of some of this, and back up your points here that are absolutely on target in my experience.

  7. Jim says:

    Comment edit:
    “…you succinctly distinguish between the importance of the production of stuff as a by-product of the process, rather than the packaging of stuff as the process itself”
    And “beign” is begin.
    One day I will proofread my comments, and then maybe even my posts.

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