A Course, A Community?

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Shortly after the #ucsaffire Festival earlier this week, I wrote a post about small open online communities.

In the post, I noted:

I had a brief conversation with Danny Munnerley about the capital C in SOOC. Danny made the excellent point that C stands for Community rather than Course. I am going to act on this excellent suggestion and think about longer-term aspects of open online opportunities.

Stephen Downes picked up on the post and observed in OLDaily:

courses have start and end dates, and communities don’t. So if your thing has a start and end date, it’s a course. It may foster and support community, but it’s something different. (Stephen’s emphasis)

I agree entirely and do need to make a clarification.

The cSOOCs with which I have been involved are available after the chronological end date of the course. In sport coaching we discuss concentration and dispersal. I am thinking this is what happens in cSOOCs too. We come together for focussed discussions and then go off about our daily business.

Danny’s proposal resonated with me in so far as the resources created for the cSOOCs are available to foster and support community development.

I have been thinking about edgeless learning and lifelong learning that may or may not involve credentialism. In my earlier post, I mentioned Susan Blum‘s Huffington Post article in which she argued:

If our ultimate goal is to educate human beings, then we must focus not only on knowledge and information, discipline and surveillance as measured by tests, but also on non-academic pleasures, motivations, skills, and the full array of human engagement that sustains attention and meaning.

Thanks to Stephen’s clarification, I do think this blending of courses and communities is part of the transformation Terry Heick discussed recently and is part of the reflection Debbie Morrison discussed in regard to MOOCs.

My realisation … when I discuss cSOOCs, I should specify that these are available after the ‘end’ of moments of concentration of collaborative or cooperative activity. They remain as resources in the dispersed communities they were designed to foster and support.

I am thinking that is the potency of the lower case c in cSOOC.

Photo Credit

Rainbow Over Innovation Park, Yorkali Walters CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Small Open Online Communities

slide-1-638I had an opportunity to present some ideas about a cSOOC at the #ucsaffire Festival.

Shortly after presenting, I had a brief conversation with Danny Munnerley about the capital C in SOOC. Danny made the excellent point that C stands for Community rather than Course.

I am going to act on this excellent suggestion and think about longer-term aspects of open online opportunities. A few days earlier, Susan Blum wrote:

If our ultimate goal is to educate human beings, then we must focus not only on knowledge and information, discipline and surveillance as measured by tests, but also on non-academic pleasures, motivations, skills, and the full array of human engagement that sustains attention and meaning.

Whilst I was presenting, Paul Perkins, a friend facilitating the Introduction to Box’Tag cSOOC was welcoming another participant in the community:

On this SOOC: An Introduction to Box’Tag we have a number of experienced and exceptional coaches including, Professor Keith Lyons, Professor Allan Hahn – Keith and Allan have many years of experience working with elite athletes across a range of sports. Losh Mathews and Joe Leahy – Both have a wealth of experience in coaching boxing at the development stage and club level. Lewis Kiddy, who has just started as a coach and is coaching a junior program designed to improve agility, coordination, balance, while introducing young athletes to exploring skills and assisting with their overall personal development.

One of Australia’s best-ever athlete/boxer, Paul Miller – who won numerous National Championships and a Gold Medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games is also on this course and it’s interesting to hear his thoughts on this emerging sport. We have Doctor Jason Berry, who is a skill acquisition specialist, David Briggs, a strength and conditioning coach who has worked in the pre-elite and elite level for a variety of sporting program and Sid Burgees – A fantastic coach with over 20 years of experience in rugby league and rugby union.
As for myself I have been fortunate to coach at every level of the sport of boxing, from club level through to International competition.

Apart from this course there a many other coaches who would like to be connected to learn and share their experiences, all it takes is a coming together of like-minded people who share a similar belief.

There are 103 participants in the online Box’Tag community at the moment. Following a brief conversation with Dean Groom at #ucsaffire, I am hopeful that this community might grow to include new members.

The OpenLearning platform for the cSOOC will continue to be available as a touchstone of and for the community.

Making Room for Learning Spaces

Early Summer mornings are great times to catch up on overnight news.

This morning I had a Scoop.it alert to Colin Warren’s Technology and Curriculum Transformation page.

Colin linked to a Steve Wheeler post on Learning Precincts. Steve’s post was written at the New Zealand Tertiary Education Summit. In the post, Steve considers how universities might create learning spaces that are conducive to learning for all.

Steve shared news of Rob Allen’s talk on Auckland University of Technology’s Learning Precinct. The Precinct is due to be completed in 2013 and will increase the campus by 25%. Its features include:

  • a 12-floor tower, a plaza, glass atrium, and a green quad
  • linkages between key buildings on the City Campus and a major gateway to AUT
  • an additional 20,000 square metres of new facilities
  • lobbies and break-out spaces have been designed as collaborative social study areas, with a range of furniture types to cater for multiple ways of learning

I enjoyed reading Steve’s account and learning about AUT’s plans. The post has encouraged me to think again about how learning is supported by moments of concentration of people in spaces and their dispersal into other physical and virtual places. I am keen to find low cost, sustainable options for these interactions. I believe that connected (ubiquitous computing) social spaces are keys to convivial learning.

After a year of working without a fixed office on my University campus I am wondering about the possibilities of transforming all spaces to open spaces. This does involve being relaxed about Cloud based support for mobile learners.

It involves contemplating Betaville too! There was a comment on Steve’s post from Vincent Driscoll. Vincent is working on a Betaville project and points out that:

The emphasis is on self-sufficiency and taking responsibility for our own learning. We are encouraged to find the answers ourselves – we even get roped in to research topics and present our findings back to peers at workshops.  Information moves partly from the tutors to us, as you would expect, but also between the learners peer-to-peer. The programme is designed so that this happens spontaneously. We were told at the intro session that we should think of ourselves as essential parts of a system of learners, a learning organisation even and the Betaville project is just one, though significant, element designed to facilitate it.

I like the Betaville suggestion that:

the future of a street corner, a blank wall, a vacant lot, or an entire city can now be tinkered with on an ongoing basis at negligible cost by the full spectrum of subject matter experts: the people who know what it’s like to live there now, the people who know how to make new things happen… and people with great ideas to share, anywhere in the world, whenever they can and care to.

This kind of approach is helping me move further towards an edgeless university that is people-centric located within the community … organopónicos for learners and teachers.

Postscript

Shortly after posting in this item I learned about the CAUDIT Study Tour of Learning Spaces and Technology that took place last week. Visits were made to the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, Victoria University and the University of Melbourne.

The aims of the tour were to:

  • Engage IT leaders in the area of good design for Learning and Teaching so they can appreciate and represent the holistic design concepts in their own institutions;
  • Explore identified exemplars in learning space designs and understand what facilitates good learning and teaching practice;
  • Develop some basic best practice guidelines around technology integration to share with the wider CAUDIT membership;
  • Establish a Community of Practice for Learning Space and Technology across Australia and New Zealand.

My colleague Danny Munnerley was on the tour and has alerted me to his collection of photographs of the tour and to James Sankar’s blog posts about each of the visits.

Photo Credit

AUT’s Brand New Precinct