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Kristen Swanson wrote a brief post two days ago about Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take.

She shares three profiles from the book:

  • People who help others without hesitation (Givers).
  • People who help others but expect reciprocation in return (Matchers).
  • People who mostly take from others (Takers).

These profiles took me back to James Redfield’s Celestine Prophecy (1993) and his discussion of energy givers and takers and reminded me too of Malcolm Gladwell’s connectors.

Kristen went on to reflect on her personal learning network (PLN) and observed:

my PLN is full of givers. When I engage my PLN on Twitter around a topic, question, or resource, I’m always amazed by how freely they give. In turn, I honestly enjoy giving back whenever I can. This exchange (which is organic and far from “an eye for an eye”) has improved me as a person and as an educator.

Stephen Downes plays an important role in my personal learning. I noticed this week that Stephen had written about e-portfolios. Stephen suggests that “students will be responsible for managing their own online learning records and creative products”. I am hopeful that this leads to a growing altruism of open sharing.


Last month’s announcement of the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent makes this open sharing an important characteristic of higher education. Universities in Wales have agreed “to ensure that any designated teaching and learning material released under open licence can be adapted and redistributed without cost or restriction”. (I am grateful to a  Martin Weller tweet for a link to this declaration.)

I think that this will be an environment where the cMOOCs, described by Jenny Mackness this week, will flourish. It is interesting to note the verbs Jenny used to characterise cMOOC activity: distribute, network, immerse, disrupt, self-organise, remix, repurpose and co-create.

A delightful email to me from Hugh Nguyen this morning brought all these ideas into focus. With Hugh’s permission, I am sharing the insights he shared with me:

we use dropbox to share the media amongst the coaches, we decided to open up all the materials we used to the junior coaches in ACT. They might get some ideas, share with us some ideas, or just find a different level of enjoyment watching the games knowing more about the background.

Hugh uses MailChimp as his newsletter platform. The idea for his project came from reading Take Your Eye Off the Ball. Hugh is able to follow up on the use coaches make of his open sharing in order to refine how he shares information.

Hugh’s email encouraged me to think about how coach education and development programs might start to use this cooperative approach. For many years now, I have been hopeful that all the millions of person hours spent analysing opponents could become a commonwealth of knowledge to support the flourishing of sports. There are so many resources to give and share. Perhaps in Kristen and Adam’s terms, we could all start by reciprocating sharing (matching).

After reading Jennifer Roberts’ post on Patience, I have a better insight into the pedagogical support needed to encourage giving. I liked her suggestion that she acts as an engineer in the pace and tempo of learning experiences to stimulate immersive attention:

Every external pressure, social and technological, is pushing students in the other direction, toward immediacy, rapidity, and spontaneity—and against this other kind of opportunity. I want to give them the permission and the structures to slow down.

I think open sharing and connecting makes this slowing down more possible.

Three young female kids, girls sharing one stand-up paddle board


Photo Credits

Common land (Joss Winn, CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Shareholder value in the state forest (Markus Spring, CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Three young female kids, girls sharing one stand-up paddle board (Mike Baird, CC BY 2.0)

Connecting 131008


It has been a busy few days.

I am delighted with the response to Darrell Cobner’s guest post.

I have been thinking a great deal about the “disciplinary gaze” issues raised by Darrell and by Chris Carling and his colleagues (2013).

I believe profoundly that this gaze has agnostic qualities … it occurs in a variety of contexts and at different tempos.

Digital sharing is transforming scholarship and I hope that by connecting through a range of media we enable thick descriptions to emerge and be shared openly. I keep returning to the concept of CommentPress:

CommentPress is an open source theme and plugin for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line or block-by-block in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation.

Whilst installing the CommentPress Core plugin for WordPress, I managed to remove all my customisations for Clyde Street! I am going to set up a new blog space to share the functionality of the plugin and explore the possibilities for co-authorship.

As I open up these opportunities, thanks to Jenny Mackness, I am mindful of the growing discussion of connectivism.

George Couros has reminded me that Isolation is now a choice educators make. He notes:

Personally, blogging has made me really think about what I do in my role as an administrator, and I would say that the process has really clarified a lot of my thinking.  The other aspect of writing for an audience and getting their feedback has made a huge difference on my learning as being challenged has made me really think about my work.  In fact, I am writing this because someone read my blog post, challenged it, and I came back to revisit my thinking.  That wouldn’t have happened if I wrote it in a journal that I tuck away at home.

When my daily feeds enable me to read about James Grayson’s work and contemplate data shared by Ted Knutson, I am excited think about what co-production might achieve.

Propsects of co-production returned me to a Dan Pontefract post from 2011. I have been thinking about how our personal learning journeys and environments move us through his Digital Learning Quadrants.


I do think gaze is transformed by the opportunities to collaborate and cooperate. It might lead us to engage in the kind of discussion about data  Annette Markham proposes.

Data is, as research terminology goes, a deceptively easy word to toss around. It’s easily accessible for most of us, fills in as a better descriptor than the term ‘stuff,’ and adds instant credibility to that which it describes. The term ‘data’ does far more than describe units of information used in the course of one’s study. It functions as a powerful frame for discourse about knowledge — both where it comes from and how it is derived; privileges certain ways of knowing over others; and through its ambiguity, can foster a self–perpetuating sensibility that it is incontrovertible, something to question the meaning of, or the veracity of, but not the existence of.

 Photo Credit

Busy District Line (2) (Owen Blacker, CC BY-NC 2.0)

(Lif)e-portfolio: listening and sharing

I am reading lots of blogs at the moment.

Students on the Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit at the University of Canberra have submitted their blogs as part of the assessment for their course.

It has been fascinating seeing their take on the unit and on their experiences as teachers and coaches.

It was very timely, therefore, that Stephen Downes pointed to Lee Ballantyne’s post about (lif)e-learning and Jenny Mackness’s post about the First Steps in Higher Education MOOC.

Another link, shared with me by my wife Sue, alerted to me Anna Salleh’s post about listening. Anna reports work by Imran Dhamani that indicates that:

Some children find it hard to listen to conversations in a noisy environment because they are slow at switching their attention between different speakers.

… such children can fail to understand instructions, perform badly in subjects where class noise levels are high and quickly become the “black sheep” of the class.

Imran’s colleague Pia Gyldenkaerne has investigated the brain activity of children with listening difficulties, Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). These children had different brain activity when compared to children with no listening difficulties.

I was interested to read a summary of Lee’s conclusions about e-portfolios:

e-portfolio adoption must form part of a strategic approach and requires new practice due to their disruptive nature. Implementation has been planned for and with continued management should realise tangible benefits although it is acknowledged that this is a slow, iterative process and understanding will develop with experience and over time.

I am profoundly interested in the use of e-portfolios as a way of sharing life experiences as well as being an exciting assessment option. Today’s feeds have reminded me that listening is a fundamental issue I must address particularly if I use lecture theatres and SlideCasts as fora to share information and experience.

Photo Credit

Listening to Mystery