attending to the shadow of living and learning on the web



Protected: Introduction to Insight Dialogue

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‘I see mostly preaching and I am worried’

[This post was published elsewhere in 2015]

This is a response to Heli’s deep and honest reflections about open online learning.

I titled the post with a quote from Heli in the comments to her post as it resonated with some of the concerns I have been experiencing recently. I was deeply touched by the post and how in listening to a book review of a book about one topic new frames of learning opened for her.

Continue reading “‘I see mostly preaching and I am worried’”

Plausible deniability

I have been interested in online conversational dynamics for a long time now. I am interested in understanding what are the patterns that can create so many misunderstandings and how we navigate the unique nature of this space where the public and the private do not map to physical spaces. I often joke that if I diss you in the pub to a friend nobody but my friend needs to know. Our lives online are much more transparent than that and this context collapse can be both a gift and a curse.


The video above was produced for an altogether a lighter purpose – but I include it here because it makes the point, all be it a little more dramatically than I might want.

I think plausible deniability can help us talk about what happens when our conversational dynamics do not work well. This post explores my understanding so far and whilst it can be used as descriptive of something, it cannot infer intent in any one individual. In a sense this is the curse of text mediated dialogue even when skilled.

Plausible deniability refers to circumstances where a denial of responsibilty or knowledge of wrongdoing can not be proved as true or untrue due to a lack of evidence proving the allegation. US Legal definitions

Continue reading “Plausible deniability”

We can’t break the spell

'Will you all shut up?!' by @mdvfunes CCBY
‘Will you all shut up?!’ by @mdvfunes CCBY

It has been a difficult two years.

The last incident left me ready to start pressing that button 24 hours a day.

'One of those days' by Michael Branson Smith CCBY
‘One of those days’ by Michael Branson Smith CCBY

I wrote a pointy finger blog post. It did not help me feel better. I decided it was time to go. I had visited the internet, and it just had not lived up to its expectations.

Meme by @mdvfunes CCBY
Meme by @mdvfunes CCBY (see sources)

The cartoon that opens this post is populated with statements that have been directed at me during the last 2 years. I have followed the usual advice ‘don’t feed the troll’ and have remained silent…except when I haven’t.  When I haven’t I have tried to be smart. This has not made me feel better. I had had enough and I saw no solution but to leave.


I have written before about the idea that my troll is your friend and vice versa. What I have not included in those reflections is the temporal dimension, people shift roles on a dime. All of the comments on the cartoon come from a supposedly supportive community that values learners who  create own path – so difference of opinion should be welcomed. Yes, I thought that too.

The rest of this post is about the wonderful people who convinced me to stay and who helped me learn that it is really possible to see the troll as a gift.  Continue reading “We can’t break the spell”

I am on a break!

I am taking an indefinite break from this blog, whilst I decide if I will continue to write about open online education.

Purposeful Tinkerings

‘ [Web 2.0 tools offer] a new user-centric information infrastructure that emphasizes participation [ ] over presentation, that encourages focused conversation [ ] rather than traditional publication, and that facilitates innovative explorations, experimentations, and purposeful tinkerings that often form the basis of a situated understanding emerging from action, not passivity.’ John Seely Brown

In this post I begin to unpack what innovation means to me in the context of learning; I need to develop a personal working definition of innovation for my  Online Education course. I have spent a lifetime teaching people about the creative process and looking at innovation as the output of the psychology of creativity. From a traditional academic perspective I could write  and have written a great deal about creativity and innovation. The theories, the practice and application have accompanied me throughout my career. This latest assignment is asking for a working definition that will enable me to evaluate if a particular technological achievement can be called an innovation. It asks less for a theoretical endeavour and more for an exploration situated in my context of operation.

Continue reading “Purposeful Tinkerings”

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