Digital Public Space; CyberSalon

Digital Citizens; From Consumers to Creators

Background; Last night (March 23rd) Cybersalon, co-ordinated by Eva Pascoe, organised one of their public events in the House of Commons discussing Digital Citizenship. This was in response to being invited to comment on 3 new government policy documents relating to the developing and evolving digital world we increasingly live in. First of all The House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report Make or Break The UK’s Digital Future (pdf). Secondly the Speakers Commisson (John Bercow) on Digital Democracy and, as it turned out, most importantly for the debate the recent report on digital surveillance Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework (pdf) by the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Debate; Opened by Richard Barbrook stating that “We should collectively regulate the Internet in the common interest” and expanding on his recent blog post on Digital Citizenship as democratic emancipation, he pointed out that we should not just be looking at political and civil rights but also socio-economic rights. The debate then mostly concentrated on surveillance. Cybersalon were originally proposing three dimensions to the debate, Digital Rights, Digital Education and a Digital Commons (or Digital Public Space), as called for in their Open Letter, but digital rights and surveillance became the focus of the discussion. Tom Watson MP talked of the need for a coherent digital policy and of his own digital pledges. Carl Miller talked of his work on digital democracy and that we needed open policy making where surveillance was concerned, perhaps having public oversight of surveillance through “intelligence jurors.” Mark Cridge of the Green Party talked of critically differentiating between our digital rights as consumers and as citizens. BirgittⒶ Jónsdóttir talked of having clear core policy, Icelands Peoples Party started with the view that in formulating policy it was for “digital rights in a borderless world,” not just Iceland. Finally Smari McCarthy of MailPile, refreshingly talked of the need for a broader debate around what is citizenship, not just what is digital citizenship, and that we should start from “trusting citizens.” (Pic of Cybersalon panel below)fg-cs-DC1

Surveillance and the privatisation of Digital Space. The debate that followed the short introductory talks by the speakers was driven by concerns of overly-invasive surveillance by governments and collusion between large corporations and governments, perhaps best described as  the “aggressive privatisation of the digital commons.” In the main the discussion aligned with the phrase in the Open Letter; Today, we are being barred from full participation by abusive copyright law and monopolies in search, email, social media, storage, e-commerce, hosting, and other vital components.  This shared paranoia somewhat limited the debate and we didn’t move on to solutions like a Digital Public Space, Continue reading

Mapping information landscapes & Emergent Learning

Personal Research Agenda; Environmental sustainability, architectures of participation

Background; Three factors govern what I now do educationally, in a post-Web2.0 world

1. Being involved in the longest occupation of a UK University, actually Northern Polytechnic in London, for 5 months in 1971; we also occupied the Canteen for 5 years and ran it as a student co-op.

2. Working in government on digital inclusion and realising that, in a representative democracy, no politician is the least bit interested in social inclusion

3. Teaching the Social Impact of Computing and developing my own model of technology-driven social change; NSU, networks, services, users.

Issues; From the first experience, as a key member of the occupation committee, I learnt that socially-organised problem-solving is the best way of understanding anything. Which could be so welcome to this workshop…

Continue reading

From Access to Content to Context

Beyond Open; #fslt12 MOOC Reflections

Overview; This is my fifth in a sequence of six reflective blog posts on how I developed my teaching and learning practice and reflects on my practice in the noughties. I spent time running workshops in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in Community Learning, become a Visioneer with Culture Online in 2001, an early attempt to create a digital public space. The DfES asks to me develop a ‘Digital Divide Content Strategy’ and we started the Metadata for Community Content project looking at modelling informal e-learning.  I also start work on the Cybrarian project, a Facebook for e-learning that had a working prototype social network, built by Fujitsu before Zuckerburg started his “Hot or Not” coding. It was rejected on the advice of management consultants (who charged £4.5m for that deathless advice), we form lastfridaymob (a pubic technology group), which later reconfigures as the Learner-Generated Contexts Research Group. We present the Open Context Model of Learning at the launch of Open Learn; John Seeley Brown call it the ‘most exciting thing happening in England’. The OU refused to publish it.

Developing informal e-learning nationally; The £250m Community Access to Lifelong Learning (CALL) initiative in 2000 followed Continue reading

An Internet Model of Learning & Teaching

Somewhere in the 20th Century

Overview; This is my fourth in a sequence of six reflective blog posts on how I developed my teaching and learning practice and reflects on my practice in the 1990s. I become aware of the Internet in the 1980s and discussed its social impact before incorporating it into course design.  I looked at the technical architecture of the net and the Web and started to developed early courses for the Internet and the web, including the MirandaWeb award-winning TaLENT Community Grid for Learning project in Lewisham; Teaching and LEarning with Educational NeTworks. I look at how this new learning design required new learning literacies.

A Global Information Utility (GIU) was posited by Yoneji Masuda for the Japanese Government as a key characteristic of the global future in the 21st Century when he was at MITI in 1981; the English translation was published in 1986. As an ancillary to my future vision NeXT 2021 I wrote a handout on the technical possibilities of building the infrastructure to support a GIU in 1989. As the possible platform I ranked the low-bandwidth Internet third behind the higher-bandwidth multi-media SONET & ISDN which had greater controls and costs. However it was the “self-booting” character of the internet and the freedom of users to create tools, such as HTTP, the web and browsers, and upload them for others to use, that meant its bandwidth limitations were circumvented (who has heard of SONET?). It is this creative flexibility to develop and evolve that the Internet incorporates that underpins  Continue reading

The Craft of Teaching

Brokering Learning; reflections for #fslt MOOC

Overview; This third reflective blog post on my learning and teaching is about how I developed my professionalism as a teacher in the After Math of beginning to teach computing in a UK college instead of politics in a USA University; it’s how the light gets in. I think I eventually developed a craft of teaching which, as Malcolm Gladwell and Richard Sennett argue, takes 10,000 hours.

Getting by on teaching alone; Intrigued by my Greek friend Eli Georgeadou’s suggestion that my teaching skills alone enabled me to teach Computing, and also being unemployed with a baby on the way, I decided to take up her offer. Unsurprisingly I got Mathematics (Numeracy Skills), Organisational Theory and English (the Americans had failed to overthrow English), on Computer Studies and Systems Analysis courses. That year was more terrifying than delivering my first class with my arm in a sling after a car crash as I KNEW NUFFINK! No back-up, de nada. I did learn to be completely honest and Continue reading

Curious & Confident (2)

Initial Teaching Experience #fslt12 reflections

Overview; This is my second reflective post (the first was on learning) and is quite complicated because I was the alternative education officer in a Student’s Union when I was 19 then, when I was 28, had an offer to be a teaching assistant in the USA where I started teaching Politics, then when I was back in the UK, had a very significant phone call asking me to teach Computing. Resolving those differences lead me to become a good teacher IMHO, the significant aspects of which I will pick up tomorrow.

Education Officer; In his recent brilliant book, Together, Richard Sennet analyses how we might make co-operation work. He argues that we need to understand dialogic, or collaboratively driven, processes, rather than dialectic, or rationally resolved, processes. Continue reading

Curious & Confident (1)

My life as a learner: reflections #flst12

Overview; This is my opening blog post for the MOOC First Steps in Teaching and Learning and we have been asked to reflect on our practice as learners and teachers. I will cover 4 points, my learning experience, my initial teaching, my practice after understanding teaching (brokering learning) and my open context based practice in a post-Web 2.0 world. Having commenced this process with this blog post I have now decided to do this as 4 daily blog posts; this is part 1.

My learning experience; Actually I have written a complete reflective novel on my experiences of learning called 63/68 A Visceral History. This is a novelisation of the Open Context Model of Learning (ref below) which, like most of my work, was rejected by people in authority in the UK; in this case the Open Universities Open Learn team (how ironic, how elitist too). We had it accepted as a chapter in an Australian book on Web 2.0 based e-learning; finally published 3 years after we gave our talk! It was this ridiculous time delay, in a Web 2.0 world, of publishing a paper likely to be read by perhaps 20 people that prompted me to write a novel reflecting on my own learning, in what Ronan O’Beirne deliciously described as a “pre-theory” story. He’s right! All theory has been removed (though it is loaded with that) and so you have to work out the meaning of the stories for yourself. You know what? That is how I teach. Continue reading