Conversations and Cooperation in #UCSIA15



We are two months away from the start of the open online course Sport Informatics and Analytics (#UCSIA15).
My colleagues in the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) at the University of Canberra and I are working to ensure that we have everything in place for the 23 February start date.
The course is being hosted by Canvas.
One of my hopes for the course is that many of those who register for the course make the bold decision to connect with others. My colleagues in TLC have been encouraging me to think about why, how and where these convivial conversations may take place.

Necessary Fallibility

Their prompting has taken me back to look at the ‘necessary fallibility’ discussed by Samuel Gorovitz and Alasdair MacIntyre (1975). They observe:

Precisely because our understanding and expectations of particulars cannot be fully spelled out merely in terms of law-like generalisations and initial conditions, the best possible judgement may always turn out to be erroneous … because of the necessary fallibility of our knowledge of particulars. (p.18)

Theirs is a discussion about medicine but they include this statement about an Olympian physician which I do think has important implications for digital habitats. This physician:

would stand humbled by the mysteries of individual diversity, and would know that an inquiry into the distinctiveness of each individual … is an essential ingredient in his (her) practice. (p. 20)

I am hopeful that #UCSIA15 stimulates a sharing of this diversity. The course includes a theme of ‘Introductions’ and explores personal learning environments.
I see this course as a time to explore ideas in a caring community, mindful that this is a necessarily fallible approach.


The TLC staff have been very patient too as I have explored how a connectivist approach might guide the framing of our discussions about informatics and analytics. I am delighted that they have accepted willingly the suggestion that #UCSIA15 is a great opportunity to explore a non-linear open course.
In such an approach, Stephen Downes (2014) notes that, a learner is “a self-managed and autonomous seeker of opportunities to create, interact and have new experiences”. Learning is not “the accumulation of more and more facts or memories, but the ongoing development of a richer and richer neural tapestry”. He adds that:

the essential purpose of education and teaching is not to produce some set of core knowledge in a person, but rather to create the conditions in which a person can become an accomplished and motivated learner in their own right.

I am hopeful that the application of Alan Levine’s structured exposure will help stimulate and focus conversations. I have identified four themes, one for each week of the course, as an option for aggregated exchanges.
I have identified a number of formal places where conversations can take place but I understand that there are lots of other existing informal connections too.

Going Beyond Hello

Participation in #UCSIA15 is entirely voluntary. I have spent a good deal of the last few months contacting people about the course. I do see this an exciting moment in the discussion of informatics and analytics.
I think it is a wonderful inclusive opportunity.
A post by Dean Shareski about his Ignite Your Passion for Discovery evenings has encouraged me to think about how we might go beyond ‘Hello’ in course conversations.
One of the speakers at Dean’s Vancouver evening was Kristi Blakeway.
This is her 5 minutes presentation

In addition to being the Principal at Harry Hooge Elementary School in Maple Ridge, BC, Kristi founded Project HELLO (Helping Everyone Locate Loved Ones). In this project:

high school students approach the homeless and offer them the opportunity to send hand-made greeting cards to family or friends who they may have lost touch with.  It began as a one day field trip – but it has now become a multi-school year round initiative.  One by one, the homeless have trusted us with their stories and offered a glimpse into their lives.  To date we have helped over 300 people send messages of love, through greeting cards, phone calls and face to face reunions.

I think this is a most wonderful illustration of where conversation can take us.
I hope to encourage everyone in #UCSIA15 to take that first small step to acknowledge others.

Photo Credits

Conversation (Tom Magilery, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Wooburn Green – Little Marlow (Peter, CC BY-SA 2.0)



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