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attending to the shadow of living and learning on the web

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Openness in education

A relationship of sharing between 2 or more people. David Wiley

The contemplative construction of reality

I have been focused on how the situation affects our behaviour beyond our intentions and dispositions as I continue to widen my understanding of using the web for education.

In my teaching I have been exploring the ways in which we can train our attention beyond the habitual – how to access what Francisco Varela called the Blind spot of cognitive science,

“I maintain that there is an irreducible core to the quality of experience that needs to be explored with a method. In other words, the problem is not that we don’t know enough about the brain or about biology, the problem is that we don’t know enough about experience… We have had a blind spot in the West for that kind of methodical approach, which I would now describe as a more straightforward phenomenological method. … Everybody thinks they know about experience, I claim we don’t.” Francisco Varela

I met Francisco at Schumacher College in the UK a year before his death. We talked as we walked by the river near the college and our conversations are imprinted in my mind to this day. He was a wise man, a buddhist, an academic, but most of all a warm and kind man who one could speak to easily.

After many years, I am coming back full circle to his work. It is helping me bring a secular way to describe to a wider audience what I live each day in my buddhist practice. As I help students find resources for their final papers, I come across a website with a list of publications by David Levy – the author of Mindful Tech.

I respect David’s work and his book was a joy to read, but the publication page gave us access to so much more. I was lost in it for some time…not just for my students, but for my own learning.

The contemplative construction of reality is a new theoretical framework for me. It is to be contrasted with the idea of the social construction of reality – used far too often to push an agenda of forced connection in education via the internet. It has given me a framework within which to position my current work in online insight dialogue and the use of contemplative pedagogies in online education.

What follows are reflections on how my own thinking has been challenged by what I have been reading and how these reflections are re-shaping my view of life online for both personal and educational purposes.

Continue reading “The contemplative construction of reality”

Creating an ethical commons

[originally published on another site in July 2015]

My response to Viv’s plea for an ethical commons and a 6th R of Open – Responsibly!

I am having to add another book to my already large pile! I love the distinction matter and manner of education. We spend so much time on the matter of education and so little in the manner of education.

Continue reading “Creating an ethical commons”

Virtues *and* vices

[This post was published elsewhere in 2015]

A response to Viv’s excellent reflection on attending ALTc.

I have been trying different ways to respond to Viv’s post. I wrote a post on my other blog, I ditched the post. I started using Hypothesis and commenting on her blog, I deleted my annotations. I thought of calling her, and then realised this would mean my response would be private when her questions had been public.

Continue reading “Virtues *and* vices”

Why disenchant what so often is good fun?

Life in the network 1 Animated gif by @gifadog CCBY
Life in the network –  Animated gif by @gifadog CCBY

Why talk of myth, why disenchant what so often is good fun? Because we must be wary when our most important moments of coming together seem to be captured in what people happen to do on platforms whose economic value is based on generating just such an idea of natural collectivity.” (Couldry, 2013)

A necessary disenchantment

My time has come for what Couldry (2013) labels ‘the necessary disenchantment of the digital age’ as we learn to see past the myths we co-create to make sense of the world. For me, it is about disenchanting the myth of open online education. I have written about this before and chosen to close comments here as not everyone appreciates those of us inquiring into the limitations of a field of study whilst still being part of it. Couldry explores 3 myths in his article: ‘the myth of the mediated centre’, ‘the myth of big data’ and ‘the myth of us’. In this post I mostly look at the myth of ‘us’ as it applies to people involved in open education.

Continue reading “Why disenchant what so often is good fun?”

Openness in education – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

In my new look blog, I have also worked on blog categories to help reframe my involvement in open online education. I put the blog on hold for a while as I reflected on my own motivations and my discomfort with some of what I have observed in the relational dynamics of the people I have come to know since starting to explore open online education 3 years ago.

I want to participate and I have to participate in a way where I am free to say what I notice without fear – this has not been the case of late. Closing comments here is intended to help me say what I want to say.

I also have decided to do a Humpty Dumpty and redefine words a bit. This post is about that.

Continue reading “Openness in education – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

TweetDeck

I thank Viv Rolfe for the title of this post! Her post helped me reflect on my own motivations and role what I have been labelling ‘open online education’ in this blog. I responded to Viv’s post with a comment published in Known that I titled Virtues and Vices. In that post I reflected on how sad it was that we had to apologise for asking questions that challenged conventional wisdom and the importance of making ourselves keep asking them,

I am thinking about all of those things, Viv. I also find myself ‘questioning not just openness but my motives behind wanting to contribute to it.’ Some people have already said adios. If we do not take time to consider the vices as well as the virtues, in the spirit of inquiry rather than self-righteousness, many more more might say adios in the not too distant future. Is this how we want it to be?

It is not how I want it to be. My first step in taking action to feel free to say what I want to say is to close comments on this blog. This post talks about how I hope my decision might help me tackle virtues, vices and heffalumps.

Continue reading “What’s not being said and where’s that elephant?”

Social Networks then and now

As is often the case with my learning online many paths start with a tweet.

In my digital storytelling work I have of late become interested in Twitter Bots. There are wonderful bots as well as crappy spam ones. Just as in the rest of life amongst humans. Some make art for you, others poetry, and yet others make a fine go at sounding wise mediated by text at least, like @everyadage above. I have made several posters illustrating the sayings as they are in that uncanny valley space of almost making sense and that interests me.

The saying made me stop and reflect. The sense it made for me was in connection with the light and shadow side of groups of people who come together to learn (apologies for the long description but other terms such as communities, connections or networks come with too much baggage for my purpose here) in open online learning events. I have written before and often about the implications of a free-for-all ethos where no social or psychological contract is agreed upon or followed through by participants or facilitators.

Continue reading “Social Networks then and now”

Design by @mdvfunes based on content by J. Mackness and F. Bell
Design by @mdvfunes based on content by J. Mackness and F. Bell

All images licensed CC BY. Sources:

I am helping Frances and Jenny with their next research paper on a Rhizomatic Learning course which ran in 2014. I made a graphic for the paper based on their words in Canva.

Alan Levine speaks martian!

I spoke with Alan Levine about the hyperlink a few weeks ago. It was my hope that I could use the recording to help students and faculty where I work understand why it mattered that we had no permalinks in our learning management system’s course blog platform. I also wanted them to understand why knowing how to ‘speak web’ mattered to mediated dialogue and mindful communication.

I never managed to edit the video during the course and when I started editing the Skype recording I made turned out to be rather precarious. Still, I felt that what Alan and I spoke about was important. I did some tacky editing to hide some of the glitches. I hope I have done enough to at least enable those interested to listen to the content if not admire my editing skills!

We had a great talk and whilst we did not keep to the order of our planned questions, we explored below our mind walking in a meandering sort of way:

  • How would you describe the hyperlink to a martian?
  • In what ways does the hyperlink embody the idea of connection?
  • How would you explain to the martian the importance of weaving/making the web?
  • What do you mean by “the original dream of hyperlinks as being bi-directional” and how does the modern web not embody this?
  • Why should I care about the hyperlink at all?

Enjoy.

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