Tag Archives: transparency

Experimenting with Open Collaboration

In week 3 of the #TeachtheWeb MOOC, we were asked to find someone to collaborate with and create something together.  The theme for the week was the open web and that was the inspiration for our collaborative work.

I loved the guiding blog post that was written for this week because it succinctly and accessibly covered some of the most important issues around opennessdecentralization, transparency, hacakability, ownership/authorship, collaboration and  remixed derivations. Although many of these topics were ones that I had examined and discussed in both #ETMOOC and the #MediaLabCourse (openness seems to be a MOOC hot-topic!) I appreciated the focus on webmaking and looking at openness through the lenses of “technical implementation as well as the social and cultural usage of the Web.”

After Kevin posted in the G+ group asking if anyone wanted to create a comic, I join him and two other collaborators, Chad and Hayfa, in using a new tool (Bitstrips) to make something together. We slowly worked out the technical details and each took turns adding one frame of the comic and then Kevin added some closing frames (he wrote more about it here). I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and test out a new tool. Bitstrips was pretty intuitive in terms of comic-creation (maybe a little less so in terms of collaboration) and I appreciated how many options were available to create life-like avatars and manipulate their movements.

bitstrips menu

The theme of our comic was a play on hacking the web and somewhere along the way, we also started a train metaphor. It was fun to be part of a co-created product and exciting to wait and see what the next person would add and find out how the story/comic ended. I think the project would have had a different feel if it had involved real-time collaboration but I appreciated the suspense of this approach and opportunity for us each to leave a mark individually while still being part of a larger whole. You can check out our final product below:

hack the web bitstrips comic

Next, Kevin actually created a remix of our collaborative comic. I love the idea of being able to continue building, layer upon layer, on a collaborative project. This allows each of us to learn from each other and spark innovative design/creation ideas that we might not have come up with on our own. It also reminds me of a collaborative Google Presentation that came out of #ETMOOC where people added slides about connected learning. As more and more people joined in, the slides began to get more complex and detailed as people inspired one another and led participants to realize new ways of using the tools and expressing ideas.

During the #TeachTheWeb Twitter chat this week, we talked about how transparency can motivate others to innovate and make/create. The transparency that’s possible in a shared Google Presentation, where you can see others working in real-time openly making changes and letting their work and inspiration be seen, is really motivating. This same transparency in code – the ability to use the X-Ray Goggles or other tools to see how someone created a website, has pushed me to experiment and try new tags and edits to make new web creations.

Although we didn’t have as much transparency in the making of our comic, we did have another vital component that we also discussed during the Twitter chat – a willingness to try and to fail. Without necessarily knowing the tool, the collaborators, the end-goal or product, we all responded to Kevin and said, “I want to try.” This mentality of openness goes a long way in helping to create open products and build an open web and also encourage others to join you or remix your work to make more open creations. So in the spirit of being inspired by others’ openness and an interest to continue our momentum, here’s my remix of Kevin’s remix of our collaboratively created Hack the Web Comic!

hack the web remix mpowers

 

Advertisements

Examining Open Education

open lock

We Participate, Therefore We Are. ~ Brown & Adler

This past week, I had the chance to delve deeper into the idea of open education and open education resources (OER) thanks to both #ETMOOC and the #MediaLabCourse.

Before this week, I hadn’t spent much time considering the differences between “open” and “free” and the power they can bring to people around the world when they are combined together. Free is valuable for the accessibility it provides but open, I discovered, means much more than just making something accessible or available to the public. It also means providing transparency and the blueprint for how and even why something was created. This unique insight into how something was made (e.g., a website, a software program), allows users to make the transition from consumers to creators much more easily. Suddenly, the plans behind a product are not only visible but they’re also “unlocked” and available for re-mixing, mashing, and updating so that they can meet the needs of individual contexts and previously unimagined goals.

It’s quite literally like holding the “secret code” in your hands to a door you might never have known existed before and then being able to enter that code in, walk through the door, and start making changes to the entire architecture of a place, program, or site.

Of course, one of the benefits of the open learning movement and the open education community, is that you don’t have to walk through that door alone. It’s similar to the community that has evolved around #ETMOOC when we all walked through the “door” of this free, open course and began to collaborate together. You join a community of other users who have also entered into an open space and who subscribe to a philosophy of open, shared inquiry and peer-to-peer learning. One of the key takeaways from the open educator’s panel and the Open Learning session I watched was the value and power of the community.

These open source communities serve to provide a place for “legitimate peripheral participation” in the words of Brown & Adler, where the process of joining a community “counts” as learning and new students can “engage in ‘learning to be’ even as they are mastering the content of a field.” I find this so exciting and freeing – the idea that you can learn as-you-go without needing to start as an expert, with the expectation that you will fail sometimes, and you can do it among a community of new peers and colleagues who are eager to support your growth.

mozilla open school

One of the best examples I have found to help concretize and demonstrate open learning is the Mozilla project and specifically Thimble. I was excited to see all of the activity happening for Open Education Week including the launch of Mozilla’s Open Badge system. Of course, after I learned about it, I wanted a badge! So I started a Thimble project that I thought connected well with the open theme: Open Webville, which was created by the new School of Open. In the first project, you have a chance to play with the HTML code for a website while also learning about Creative Commons Licenses by adding new text and CC images.

To make my page, I had an opportunity to dive into learning about and researching Creative Commons (CC) licenses and also HTML and CSS code. Although most of the steps involved things I already knew how to do (e.g., use an href tag, find CC images) I loved the ability to click and learn more details about each piece of code and then add my own to add to it. For example from seeing the HTML in my own blog, I had put together that

  • (list item) is used for lists but I never knew that the
      tag above those meant “ordered list.”

remixed animal

Next, I tried out some literal re-mixing of animals to build a site about my fictional endangered species, the Enchidolmel. While making my page, I had the opportunity to re-mix code in a scaffolded environment, learn about new HTML tags and apply the knowledge I had learned/practiced while making my last page. I was also engaged in learning about real endangered species as I created my fictional animal and maybe most important, I was exposed to the idea that I can be a creator and re-mixer of websites. I was shown that I have the power to take code and images and hack them to create something new that makes sense and holds meaning to me and then I can share that with the world!

These are the types of activities that I think are vital for our students to experience. They hit on so many 21st century skills and breakdown barriers to learning, creation, publication, and sharing. I can’t wait to try another Thimble project … and collect some more badgesHave you tried any? Will you introduce this site to your students?