New blog! lornamcampbell.org

After months, if not years, of procrastinating, I’ve finally decided it was about time to start practicing what I preach and I’ve moved this blog over to Reclaim Hosting.  Huge thanks to the guys at Reclaim for setting everything up for me so promptly!  My shiny new domain is

http://lornamcampbell.org/

I’ll no longer be maintaining Open World here at wordpress.com but I will set up a redirect shortly.

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Ada Lovelace Day at the University of Edinburgh

Yesterday I was lucky enough to participate in the first Ada Lovelace Day event at the University of Edinburgh.  The event, which was attended by a wide range of staff and students from across the University, featured an eclectic mix of talks and creative activities.

Melissa Highton introduced Ada herself and highlighted the importance of her relationship with her mentor, the Scottish science writer Mary Somerville; Jo Spiller spoke about the Edinburgh Seven, the first women to matriculate as undergraduates at a university in the UK, who were the subject of a Wikimedia editathon at the University and who have been commemorated with a plaque that was recently unveiled at the Anatomical Museum; Katya Krasnopeeva from the Pilizota Lab gave an amazing demonstration of how Lego is being used in the lab; and Stewart Cromar introduced us to his, frankly wonderful, Lego Lovelace & Babbage.  Stewart has submitted Lovelace & Babbage to the Lego Ideas challenge, where they are steadily gathering votes.  If you haven’t already done so, please go to http://bit.ly/vote-ada and add your vote to make Lego Lovelace a reality.  You can also follow Lego Lovelace on twitter and facebook.

Among the activities, participants had the opportunity to try their hand at building Lego Raspberry Pi enclosures, to compose music with algorithms, and compete in metadata games, which turned out to be horribly addictive and ridiculously competitive :}

In the afternoon Sara Thomas, Wikimedian in Residence at Museums and Galleries Scotland gave us a crash course on Wikipedia editing and led an editathon on the University of Edinburgh’s women in Computer Science.  (I created my very first Wikipedia page, which made me immensely proud 🙂

As if that wasn’t enough there was Lego Lovelace gingerbread made by my lovely colleague Nicola Osbourne and a beautiful colour-in Ada by Jackie Aim.

Best of all, all the deliverables and handbooks created for the day have been released as OERs which you can download here http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/oers/

Anne-Marie Scott and Eugenia Twomey, two of the organisers of #ALD15EdUni

Anne-Marie Scott and Eugenia Twomey, two of the organisers of #ALD15EdUni

Me and two inspiring women!

Me and two inspiring women!

Lego Ada takes a walk in George Square Gardens

Lego Ada takes a walk in George Square Gardens

Jackie Aim's beautiful colour-in Ada, picture by Marshall Dozier

Jackie Aim’s beautiful colour-in Ada, picture by Marshall Dozier

ALTC twitter take over!

alt-logo_0_0Tomorrow I’ll be heading off to Manchester where I’ll be attending the ALT Conference for the first time in several years.  Or rather what I should say is that this is the first time for a while that I’ll be attending the conference in person, as for the last couple of years I’ve participated in ALTC remotely.  This year however I’ll be on the other side of the ALTC twitter feed.  Along with Richard Goodman (@Bulgenen) of Loughborough University, I’ll be taking over the @A_L_T twitter account to live tweet the conference keynotes and invited talks, which will also be live streamed on ALT’s Youtube channel.  Last year I found that following the keynotes via the livestream and the twitter feed to be a very rewarding experience (see Marvellous Monsters – thoughts on the #altc 2014 keynotes) so I’m looking forward to helping to make sure that this year’s remote participants are able to enjoy the conference as much as I did last year!

I’ll also be providing updates about OER16 at various stages throughout the conference, so if you’d like to find out more about OER16 and how to participate look out for me and feel free to come and have a chat any time.

OER16: Open Culture

Less than a month after the fabulous OER15 conference in Cardiff and we’re already thinking ahead to next year’s OER16 event which will be taking place in Scotland for the first time in the conference’s history.  The event will be held at the University of Edinburgh, an institution with along tradition of education innovation and  openness.  I’m delighted to have the opportunity to co-chair the conference along with Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at the university.

We’re still in the process of working with ALT to finalise the date for the conference so please keep an eye on the conference holding page and hashtag #OER16 for announcements.

We’re also looking for open practitioners and like minded sorts from all sectors of education to join the conference committee and to help us shape the event. If you’d like to get involved you can sign up here: Join the OER16 Conference Committee.

The theme of OER16 is Open Culture in all its forms and the vision for the conference is to focus on the value proposition of embedding open culture in the context of institutional strategies for learning, teaching and research. Themes will include:

  • the strategic advantage of open and creating a culture of openness;
  • the converging and competing cultures of open knowledge, open source, open content, open practice, open data and open access;,
  • hacking, making and sharing;
  • the reputational challenges of openwashing;
  • openness and public engagement
  • and innovative approaches to opening up cultural heritage collections for education.

I’m also particularly keen to encourage colleagues from libraries, archives, museums, and the cultural heritage sector more widely, to get involved so we can learn from each others’ experiences of openness and start to break down barriers across these sectors.

I’ll be posting updates about OER16 here as planning progresses, so watch this space and please do sign up and get involved.

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1.6 Million

Aye, weel, it’s not the result I had hoped for, but I’m still hugely proud of what Scotland has achieved. The turn out and the level of engagement and positivity has been immense. I’m proud to have voted Yes, proud of all those who campaigned so hard, I’m proud of my adopted home city of Glasgow, and of the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence.

I hope this has been a wake up call for politicians of all stripes and a welcome reminder to the people of Scotland that there is more to political engagement than Westminster and Holyrood party politics. Lets hope that we can maintain this level of positive action and political engagement and let’s make sure we all work towards to a more equitable, fair and democratic society.

If there’s one thing that rankles with me this morning though, it’s that I will continue living in a country that hosts nuclear weapons.  Perhaps it’s time I renewed my membership of CND…

ETA I rejoined CND at the weekend.  You can read their case against Trident here: No to Trident.

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Hearing Voices

Earlier this evening I cast my vote in the Scottish referendum.  To be honest, I’m not sure I ever thought this day would come. I felt slightly woozy when I stepped out of the front door to walk up to our polling station.  The first step on a new journey perhaps?

I was ten years old at the time of the last referendum, two years older than my daughter is now.   My memories of growing up in the Outer Hebrides and later in Glasgow in the 1970’s and 1980’s are a jumble of images and events; The Cheviot The Stag and the Black Black Oil, the oil boom years when Stornoway was filled with Norwegians gambling impossible sums at private poker parties, Scotland’s mortifying 1978 World Cup campaign, the bitter disappointment of the 1979 referendum, the Cold War and military build up in the Western Isles, the despair and disenfranchisement of the Thatcher years and the injustice of the poll tax.

But the thing I also remember is the glimmer of hope that never quite died, and the voices that still spoke out.  I remember trespassing the NATO base, Monseigneur Bruce Kent speaking passionately for nuclear disarmament at a packed public meeting in Stornoway, I remember Peter Watkins filming our local CND meeting for his magnum opus Resan, and going to watch his banned film The War Game in a packed darkened room in the QMU at Glasgow University, I remember Dick Gaughan playing Songs for Scottish Miners at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, I remember the poll tax riots, and the Glasgow Phoenix choir singing The Red Flag at The Big Day in Glasgow in 1990 and later, I remember the day that Thatcher finally went.  I’m sure one of my colleagues in the Archaeology Department had a bottle of champagne at work that day.  I also remember the day that Donald Dewar announced “There shall be a Scottish Parliament.  I like that.”

Nelson Mandela’s quote “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears” has been widely used by the Yes campaign, while the No campaign has been overwhelming in its negativity.  For me that’s what it’s all about, having the courage to choose hope over fear.  What has inspired me most about the referendum, is the passionate political engagement of the Scottish people and the myriad voices that have spoken up for their beliefs on both sides of the campaign. I hope that whatever result we wake up to tomorrow morning that engagement will continue and those voices will still be heard.

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George Square, Glasgow, 17/09/2014

Marvellous Monsters – thoughts on the #altc 2014 keynotes

I wasn’t able to attend the ALT Conference this year, but what with the faultless online coverage and following the back channel on twitter, I think I caught more of the conference than I often do when I’m actually there in person. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve heard all three keynotes, and I’m very glad I did, as they were all excellent.  Congratulations to the ALTC committee for putting together such a thought provoking programme.

Jeff Haywood’s opening keynote, Designing University Education for 2025 began by focusing on the positivity of open education, while adding the caveat that

“Without vision at policy level, at government and senior management level, the system will not transform.”

He acknowledged that changing higher education takes time and needs both persistence and patience, and he concluded by calling for more modest, purposeful pilots and experiments with learning technology that are designed to scale. That final point seemed to resonate with many listeners and was tweeted many times on the conference hashtag. I could help thinking that this is exactly the kind of experimentation that the Jisc development programmes used to facilitate so successfully; we need such purposeful and experimental innovation now more than ever.

Catherine Cronin’s keynote Navigating the Marvellous explored the potential of openness to bridge educational divides. Catherine framed education as a political and ethical act, urging us as educators to use our voice, and exhorting us to “Always speak, always vote.”  A timely reminder, if ever there was one.

Quoting the inimitable Jim Groom, Catherine reminded us that “openness is an ethos not a license”. Open means sharing and building community, however the restrictive nature of both space and technology can inhibit open practice; lecture theatres privilege the lecturers voice, and the privileged position of lecturers in VLEs works against building communities and mutuality.

Taking her inspiration from Seamus Heaney’s Lightenings viii, Catherine explored the different formal and informal educational and social spaces we inhabit as learners and educators, asking

“Have you ever found yourself in a learning environment so strange you are unable to breathe? Many students have.”

Open practices and the use of social media can enable us to cross educational boundaries, to overcome “othering” and to “minimise the differential in power between educators and students”.

This latter point raised an important question for me and when I asked on twitter

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a lengthy discussion followed, with Helen Beetham arguing that while open practices may democratise participation they can not extend equal participation if learning and digital capital is unequal. Furthermore, while online spaces can disguise or level some kinds of difference and otherness, surely they amplify others? David Kernohan also suggested that social media just holds a mirror up to existing power structures.  To my mind, this is one of the most important points Catherine raised in her thoughtful and astute keynote; there are a lot of issues that need further exploration here and I very much hope we can continue this debate.

It’s hard to know what to say about Audrey Watters keynote that could begin to do it justice. We were very lucky to have Audrey present a keynote at the Cetis conference earlier this year and, if I’m honest, I did wonder how she could top such an inspirational talk. It’s fair to say that with Ed-Tech, Frankenstein’s Monster and Teacher Machines Audrey exceeded even her own high standards. Her talk was personal, inspirational and insightful and covered everything from her own grandfather, an alumni of Bletchley Park, Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace, Frankenstein’s monster, the Luddites, Skinner and Rand, by way of fairytales, poetry, storytelling and pigeon-guided missiles. I’m not even going to attempt to summarise the points Audrey raised, if you haven’t heard it already, go and listen to her keynote yourself, it’s worth an hour of anyone’s time. After all, as Audrey reminded us, quoting Hannah Arendt

“Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it.”

Links

ALTC 2014
Designing University Education for 2025: balancing competing priorities (video) – Jeff Haywood
Navigating the Marvellous: Openness in Education (video) – Catherine Cronin
Navigating the Marvellous (Storify)
Ed-Tech, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Teacher Machines (video) – Audrey Watters
Ed-Tech’s Monsters #ALTC (transcript)
Ed-Tech’s Monsters (Storify)