Saturday, December 13, 2014

The first click.

"To build the house, you have to lay the first brick."

Laura Ritchie

I have been toying with this idea for a few hours now.

I started posing a few lines but then I demolished them and went to the shops.

Provisions made, this post wants to be written.

I was listening again to the Connected Courses #notover webinar.  

I was struck by a reality that I recognised, the difficulty of trying to do anything to change ritual, to convince protectors of entrenched practices embodied in a 'modern edifice', which we term '(higher) education'.

To hear Gardner Campbell talk of his negotiations with colleagues over acronymised units of power, of budget, of time, of space made me feel empathy.

This is a system which I recognise.

I much prefer dealing with real constraints rather than to escape to some alternative reality.


It made me think of settlers to the 'new world'.

What drove the settlers to the 'new world'?
Was it just a question of personal gain?
Was is just speculation?
What were their dreams?

It made me think of  Thanksgiving.

Surely Thanksgiving is more than a Turkey dinner?

There is that idea of sharing, of community, of co-learning perhaps?

The first brick.

Looking down at the plans of Saltaire, an ideal village built in Northern England for those who served the mill master, Titus Salt, there are some signs of moral values in its design.

I am quite sure that life in Saltaire was far form ideal.

Nevertheless the mill owner showed some sense of responsibility to the local community.

Saltaire was not just a monument to profit.

What is education with no moral values?

I agree with Laura, yes of course you do need to put in hours of practice, of graft to be able to master an instrument, to build a community, a life...

I am sure that the knowledge and skilful gestures necessary to be a surgeon require painstaking repetition.

There is no avoiding industry.

Who does our industry serve?

What is education with no moral values?

I come to Howard Rheingold's talk of co-learning, and how he uses his authority to gradually enable independent thought and participation.

I would say that this is education for  learners who will partipate in a community, to build a democracy.

I would say that this is education for freedom.

This is clearly not simply about faddish technology.

Learning to read and write, learning digital literacies...

The first click.

I think of Gardner Campbell's reference to corporate ambition to 'unbundle' education.

I think of the attractive brochures which are designed to appeal to the naive.

There you are, with your terminal (marvellous word) lapping up knowledge, clicking on the box, getting your badge, getting 'an education' on the cheap.

There you are, with your forum (marvellous word) and your hangouts, seeing a 'world' through a screen, getting to 'travel' on the cheap.

I think of Amazon and their drones and I think of the vision of the people behind their desks.

I think of profit margins...

What is education with no moral values?

I am fortunate to have met people in Connected Courses who believe that education is about modeling humility, of offering helping hands to others, of caring for those who are our children, our brothers, our sisters, our elders.

I am sure that Connected Courses is not about technology, it is about freedom, it is about fellowship.

Do we not talk of academics as fellows? Should that only be ironic?

Saltaire Bandstand

What is education without art, music, poetry?

Listening to cello playing via internet is not what I prefer.
Listening to my friends speak via internet is not what I prefer.

Hell, a hangout bandstand lacks deck-chairs and trees.

For better of for worse, the mill-owners are now disconnected from local communities.

I would argue that education can only be connected to local communities, can only be connected to personal dreams and passions, to moral values, to generosity, to an appreciation of personal responsibilty, to a hearty celebration of science, poetry and art.

I would argue that as our local communities are in service to often distant mill-owners so must our education take into account this wider globalised context.

Saltaire is webbed wider.

Is education about serving industry or about safe-guarding some sort of freedom?

What is this community we are building?

Maybe we need ourselves to unbundle what we mean by education?

Units of industry may be remodeled but it is fellowship which must continue.

A bandstand with piped music is an absurd curiosity.

Oom pah pah. Oom pah pah. Second life anyone?

We are connected by more than a few bits and clicks.

A refrain played with heart does not disappear, it resonates.

I am afraid we are in this together chaps.

(The audience claps)

Now for my next number...


  1. Check out my Diigo Group annotation of this, Simon. I love how even if people turn off the comments on their blogs like Audrey Watters has, I can still comment like it was 1999. But I do understand why folks, especially women, turn off comments.

  2. Oom pah pah. Oom pah pah.

    It kind of has a beat and I can dance to it. (get it? the show?)

    Doth it have to be a binary option again or not? Screens or Satltaire? Hangouts or bandstands?

    Sure cellos in person is a more intimate, more deep experience, but were it not for the hangout or maybe years past, the avatar bow in Second Life, I might have never known the cellist. Or the dogtracking cartoonist. Or the walking thinking gardener? Or the picnic spawning web poet. Or...

    Technology gets pitched like a magic cooking spice. Just toss some on and let it do magic. Add a badge. Virtual reality. A talking lecture.

    The taste, the cooking experience come up short when it lacks the tell tale signs of a real human heart (which I deduce you are saying) (maybe). What makes the meal magical here is not the ingredients, the twitter charts, the archived webinars, the web banners - it's been the parts of the (QUOTES AHEAD) "course" that are not part of the course, all the human interaction that happens in the seams, the unplanned spaces. Where the avatar head splits open and you get to see a genuine person.

    We can wait/hope/long for "Change" to happen, yet that seems to be falling into passive voice. Like a concert cellist or tubist (is that a word?) playing for us. For stuff to happen to us. Or, as we seem to be doing, make our own raucous music.

    Those are the bricks I see Laura referring to. They are bricks of human effort, built of trust and fault to vulnerability that we.. actually... may... not... be... perfect.

    I've been a hobbyist of 18 years of meeting, interacting, playing with people I don't QUOTES KLAXXON "know" in our traditional sense, and eventually, for quite a few, I have found myself visiting, sitting at their tables, eating meals with their friends, playing nerf war in the woods, walking with their dogs, making music in the living rooms.

    I may never get to meet Laura, Terry, Kevin, Simon in person... but if/when I d0, I am 100% sure I will enjoy them as much in person as I do via Terminal. Why? It's happened literally 100 times before.

    I'll take the screens that lead me to bandstands for 500, Alex. Local and distant. As long as they are real, as both flawed and talented as I may be.


  3. No it doth not. Not good with binary.
    I agree.

    No I think the bricks refer to cello practice.

    I agree - it is essential we meet offline as much as possible. I have had those experiences. Online mobility must foster offline mobilty.

    I agree with what u are saying Alan but what I am talking about is local contexts.

    What I am talkîng about is values which we share and how they may be enrooted and developed locally.

    The bandstand with piped music/Second life with no life would be connected courses site without interaction like this.

    Saltaire webbed includes these online conversations - they are essential.
    "so must our education take into account this wider globalised context."

    No....we...are not...perfect.

    I may never get to meet Laura, Terry, Kevin, Simon in person... but if/when I d0, I am 100% sure I will enjoy them as much in person as I do via Terminal. Why? It's happened literally 100 times before.

    So maybe a Connected/Rhizo/ party thingy might be not impossible.

  4. Alan has the bricks spot on. For me, they are the thinking, connection, and trust as much as the knowledge/action, experimentation, and grind of learning. -but the joy of it is that they can be different for all of us, and that is what will make connections rich and strong. :)

    1. Hi Laura, thank you for adding your brick here :-)