Peace on Earth

Entering the final week of 622 feels cathartic and my thoughts have come full circle. Assignment #1 focused on defining openness in education and I was drawn to the humanistic quality that characterized open access as identified by UNESCO (OER, 2015), “universal access to high quality education is essential “to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue” (para.1). At this juncture in time the need for building peace and itercultural dialogue is acute. The Ubuntu philosophy, a South African philosophy about interconnectedness, accepts that we are all part of something larger; we are what we are because of who we all are. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1999) interpreted the concept in the following way. “We belong in a bundle of life. I am human because I belong, I participate, and I share” (p. 31). It is essential that open educational ecosystems incorporate multiple ways of knowing and differing views on what constitutes knowledge and what types of knowledge are promoted, validated and accepted.

My thoughts this evening are twofold. Can, as Peters (2008) contended, “the convergence of collective intelligence” (p. 10) ushered in by the technological revolution ignite an open education renaissance and rekindle debate about the purpose and future of education? Can education brought to a global audience by the affordances of open, be a force that engages individuals and groups whose cultural perspectives are diverse in a dialogue that will rekindle humanity and in the process contribute in a significant way to the ushering an era where the building of peace is a reality.

Duke University. (2015). Ubuntu: A duke community. Retrieved from:

Peters, M. (2008). Open education and education for openness. Sense Publishers. Rotterdam. The Netherlands. Retrieved from:

Tutu, D. (1999). No future without forgiveness. Random House. London. United Kingdom.

UNESCO. Open educational resources. Retrieved from:

From Compassion to Wisdom and Back Again

Inspired by the post of a class peer about MOOCS this week our 622 group took a fork in the path, choosing the route less travelled and it was an exceptionally fortuitous move. In examining initiatives like the MOOC, the DOCC and other innovative approaches to contemporary learning we become aware of what we aspire for in shaping the future of society, how we might set about creating environments that will achieve these aspirations, and can then reflect on the success or limitations of contemporary innovations in the pursuit of these goals. Our exploration continued with George Siemens’ (2015) Learning with MOOCS Keynote presentation at Columbia University and his Elearningspace post of September 9, Adios Ed. Tech. Hola something else.  We began to question the kind of world we want to leave to future generations, how we can make sure it is a world they will want to inhabit, and how contemporary educational landscapes can foster this ideal. An what might we do?

It is becoming apparent that merely acquiring an education and expanding our global knowledge banks is not enough to solve the intractable problems we as a global society face. A third dimension must infiltrate our teaching and learning if we are to be equipted to help one another to find solutions. The missing dimension is humanity, a dimension that is replete with compassion, understanding and a willingness to reach out and smooth the path of those who share this global space with us.

Two resources stood out this week, the first, Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension?, and the second, The Science of Compassion: Kindness Is a Fundamental Human Trait. In considering and integrating the dimension of humanity that may be absent from our outcome based approach we may move closer to developing the heart in our students and ourselves and in so doing make the world a better place.

In acknowledging this dimension we can begin to find ways to nurture humanity in contemporary education.

Upstream Reciprocity*

As I navigate the waters of 622 and reflect on the many faces of openness in education I am fortunate to have uncovered novel concepts in each unit that inspire me to be optimistic about the future of education globally and my own practice locally. If universal access to education is key to “building of peace, sustainable social and economic” on a global scale it it can also be key to nurturing altruism. Nowak and Roch (2006) described and explored the notion of upstream reciprocity, which occurs “when the recipients of an act of kindness are more likely to help others in turn, even if the person who benefits from their generosity is somebody else” (p. 605). Martin Weller (2011) shared Nowak and Roch’s conclusion that “although there is a cost associated with upstream reciprocity, it tends to evolve as a result of the positive feeling of gratitude and when direct reciprocity is also present, with a resultant increase in reciprocity and altruism in society as a whole” (p. 104).

A defining feature of networked 21st Century learning is the shift from a culture of secrecy to a culture of sharing. Weller goes on to argue “Sharing, and thus openness, is the base, the sine qua non of an online social network, since if no one shares then you cannot even begin to establish a network (p. 104). Nowak and Roch’s conclusion that there are enormous consequences of upstream reciprocity for human behaviour because gratitude, the key to upstream reciprocity can evolve through natural selection and argue that people who have received help online may other people, perhaps several and not only the one who helped the. Their research article culminates with an uplifting quote, “This can lead to an ‘epidemiology of altruism’ resulting in an explosive increase of altruistic acts. For a change, this is a pandemic which would be welcomed by all of us (p. 608). I am surprized each day by how the study ofopenness is reaping benefits for me that I could not possibly have predicted. I am forever grateful for that.

Nowak, M. and Roch, S. (2007), ‘“Upstream Reciprocity and the Evolution of Gratitude”’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 605–10.

Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar.

Knowledge Sharing as Democracy*

In searching for OERs for an assignment and appreciating the sources shared by class peers this week I began reflecting on the value of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) at a time when we are faced with drinking from the fire hose of information on a daily basis. PLNs can help us make sense of too much information by setting out signposts that guide our journey as we explore uncharted territory in a massive global network.

Alsion Seaman’s (2013) blog post, Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy, provided insight into the workings of a PLN and I am coming to understand how incorporating a PLN into daily practice can advance knowledge by leaps and bounds. Tapping into the wisdom of the knowledgeable crowds is a remarkable thing. Two ideas in particular reverberated for me:

“It takes time and a level of humility to come to terms with the idea that knowledge is no longer contained solely “in [our] skulls, books, and libraries” and is instead constructed from knowledge distributed across networks and on the Web” (Para. 3) and

“It’s also important to include a range of voices in a PLN. Incorporating individuals with diverse opinions avoids the risk of the network becoming an ‘echo chamber’, where dominant opinions are ‘echoed’ back to network members. This can obscure alternate viewpoints and prevent learning from taking place” (Para. 10).

The idea of opening up to a diverse range of people and ideas is critical to developing mature perspectives. It is only in considering alternate viewpoints that we genuinely learn and grow.

Seaman, A. (2013).Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy

Thought Leadership

I was inspired by Corinne Weisgerber’s (2011) presentation, Building Thought Leadership in an age of Curation and compelled to learn more about how the process of becoming a thought leader has evolved as we become increasingly connected through the power of technology and social media. Tom Whitby (2013) extended the concept to embrace the idea of educators as thought leaders. He envisions educators as thought leaders as they reach out through social media to share experiences, ideas and personal reflections for other educators to examine and reflect on in return. The critical aspect of this type of communication is that “The ideas of individuals are the focus of the collaboration, and not the titles or credentials of the contributors” (Whitby, 2013, para. 3). In reflecting on the ideas they encounter educators can examine and perhaps transform their own perspectives. In so doing they enter the ranks of lifelong learners, “exactly what we want for our students to be” (Whitby, 201430, para. 5).

Weisgerger, C. (2011). Building Thought Leadership in an age of Curation. SlideShare. November 16, 2011.

Whitby, T. (2014). What’s An Education Thought Leader? My Island View. June 10, 2013.

Seeding Change as Agents of Change

“Inherent change is efficient, reaches everyone, motivates from within, cultivates group ownership, and has built-in sustainability. It is organic change for complex human systems. The model of organic change is useful because, in organic systems, under the right conditions, change can spread quickly and existing systems can be transformed in very short periods of time” (Fullan, 2012, p. 48). In reflecting on open education and the cost to higher educational institutions, organizations and communities that may go hand in hand with the shift towards openness I came across the idea of seeding change. One of the issues taking centre stage in discussions around open education is sustainability and the need for institutions to rethink how they fund the production and delivery of academic knowledge in a way that is open and sustainable. The UKOER initiative is an example of how this might be achieved. The rationale underpinning this initiative was the idea that rather than funding a few big projects, the program seeded sustainable practice-change in over 90 organizations (universities, colleges, professional bodies, occupational communities, and third section organizations).

“Most organic systems survive because of their ability to adapt and change” (Cunningham, 2001, p. 14) and I am convinced that we must do the same if we are to survive and thrive. “We are at the early stages of a learning revolution that will define in specific terms the citizen of the future as a knowing, doing person who can function productively in a complex world” (Fullan, 2014, p. 76). As agents of change universities play a crucial role in encouraging students to embrace change, willingly innovate and adapt seamlessly for a future defined by active participation in a highly networked, knowledge rich global economy. As universities rethink traditional roles and consider radical change, collaboration across sectors within and without of institutional academia may be the key to ensuring the sustainability of the shift to open and perhaps their very survival.

Cunningham, R. (2001). Chaos, Complexity and the study of Education Communities. Paper presented to the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 13-15 September 2001.

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (2014) A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning, London: Pearson.

Fullan, M. (2012). The New Pedagogy: Students and Teachers as Learning Partners. LEARNind Landscapes. 6(2).Retrieved from:

UKOER Programme.

Localization: Tribing* and the Shift to Learner as Contributor

Inspired by a classmate’s discussion forum post entitled “Going Local”, I began to explore the concept of localization and its relevance to openness in education and found work that is both compelling and powerful. Localization is at the crux of how this form of opennss can truly have an impact on the lives of individuals globally and empower them to be agents of change in their own lives and in their families and communities. Improving opportunities for education in the developing world is directly linked to eliminating various forms of poverty (UNESCO, 2010). Access to information is not enough. As Tiffany Ivins (2011) shared, “Access to the right kind of content is key. Furthermore, at the core of this challenge is the localization of content—meaning the tailoring of content by locals for locals using appropriate, sustainable technologies (2011, p. 4).

In reflecting on the idea of localization, it became apparent that the concept is multilayered. Layer one is represented by the context and intent of the creator of the resource. Layer two the teacher, is exposed by the arrival of the resource at the local level with its unique geographical, cultural and linguistic context and their individual perspective. How the dissemination of the resource unfolds is further influenced by layer three the student, who brings their own interests, talents, capabilities and contexts to the learning interaction. The many layers are a backdrop to what sort of impact engaging with the resource will have.

In her 2011 dissertation, Localization of Open Educational Resources (OER) in Nepal: Strategies of Himalayan Knowledge-Workers, Ivins shared David Wiley’s insight. He identified that effective content localization is tied to a “learner as contributor” paradigm shift (Wiley, 2005; Wiley, 2007; Wiley, 2010). What makes content meaningful and useful is the way that it is available and accessible for adaptation—and, ideally, those who are modifying (and hopefully improving) the content are also willing to contribute that content back to a growing pool of localized knowledge. At the core of this concept is the root word trib, a shortened form of the word contribute. Wiley refers to this process as tribing and to those who do it as tribers, (Ivins, p. 188).

Tribing sounds like an effective way to become agents of change in an increasingly global society and I feel such gratitude to the innovative change makers whose dedicated work is moving us ever closer to achieving one of the tenets of UNESCO (2010) “that universal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic” and to their generosity in sharing their work in the spirit of the open movement. In doing this they pay it forward and the cycle continues.

Ivins, T. (2011). Localization of Open Educational Resources (OER) in Nepal: Strategies of Himalayan Knowledge-Workers. A dissertation submitted to the faculty of Brigham Young University. March 17, 2011.

Wiley, D. (2006) Wiley. On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education.

UNESCO. Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from: