OER and OER Infrastructure

One of the questions that I’ve been percolating and discussing with my  OpenETC  collaborators is the extent can you do open and engage in open education practices without open infrastructure.


Here’s a blog post I want to reference here for myself because of several links in the article.

Honestly, I find it difficult, not only to get past the forces of infrastructure in trying to use OER, but to also soften the active and direct resistance against OERs.

I know I can do more to build an OER presence in my work, but damm does this take a lot of patience and a lot of determination. Often more so than my workload as a teacher allows. For the most part, I act locally.



Literacy is Recognizing Patterns

Literacy, of any type, is about pattern recognition, about seeing how art is like physics is like literature is like dance is like architecture is like …Literacy is not about knowing where the dots are. Literacy is not about finding dots about which you may not know. Literacy is about connecting the dots and seeing the big picture that emerges.


This quote about literacy got me thinking. I love the connection to patterns. I do think that literacy is about knowing where the dots are, except that it is not limited to that. There are two sides to a literacy, the reading and the writing (in the grand sense of each). But this idea about patterns is great, I wonder if staying in the realm of “patterns” is too abstract to be practical though.

Last week my students came across the word “pattern” and to my slight surprise many of them asked me what the word means. A slightly bigger surprise, is that I had immediate difficulty explaining it to them. Usually I’m very good at providing examples on the spot. However, I found that “pattern” just has too many apt examples to make it an easy concept to quickly grasp. Any example would highlight the example, not the concept. Maybe this is why it fits well with “literacy”, a concept that stretches across differing landscapes.

Unfortunate that there doesn’t seem to be any way to find the original source for this quote. Imagine that, a resource not out on the web somewhere.

Rob Wall. What You Really Need to Learn: Some Thoughts. Stigmergic Web (weblog). June 3, 2007.


More: The quote is taken from a series of posts following Jenny through Stephen Downes’ eLearning 3.0 class. They are a great read if you didn’t take the class, but were still interested in it peripherally. Stephen is always thought provoking.

The intro video is a good overview. I don’t know if the Q&A is included in the video, but at one point Stephen uses the phrases “You can always go more fundamental”, which I think undermines his emphasis on experiential learning, because it’s the more fundamental stuff that is great for classroom and structured learning. Like I said though, thought provoking.

Link to the first post (includes the video): https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2018/10/19/e-learning-3-0-some-initial-thoughts/

Connections are Habits

Connections are habits: habitual repetitions, which transform all other interactions.

From Updating to Remain the Same

It’s the start of the term, so I’m mentioning “habits” constantly to my new students with the hope of getting them thinking about habits, bringing them to their foreground, making them explicit.

Recently I think that maybe habits are especially important for skills that are slow change – language, health, movement – yet can reach high levels of fluency and automaticity.

More on Habits: https://www.quietrev.com/change-your-habits-change-your-life/



The Trade-offs When Making from Scratch

There is something that happens the busier we are with things. Yes, there is value in learning to do things from scratch. But, I myself notice I get lazy. I can do it in other ways and I can probably make it look much better if I just used photoshop vs using a generator.

And that’s the tension, that’s the trade-off.


Here’s an older episode of Loose Learners, where Mariana and John talk about technology and education in a slow, calm way.

There’s a good discussion that follows this quote about the trade-offs, about what we learn when we do the work and what we might not have time or need for.

As they note, the decision always depends on situation. But, the difference is a level of competency in the ability to read and write for that particular process. In doing from scratch (or, leaning that way when possible) I better know about my competency, what I could have done, were I can improve my skill, when it is worth it to do this particular task on my own or not – in all, my use of the skill becomes more explicit.

Then there’s the matter of style (mentioned around 26:50 in the audio). Learning to recognize, tweak, and create a style is a major component in the literacy of any medium. Commanding an intentional style adds power to any communication.

Thinking of a similar situation, in cooking, making things from scratch is not only fun and helps to save money, it gets me thinking about nutrition and what I put into my body. Is there any better way to teach my kids about nutrition and health than to cook and bake with them?

Is there any better way to teach my kids about media and digital literacy than by making digital assets with them from scratch?

Making People More of What They Already Are

“That lesson is that things are most compelling when they are allowed to be exactly what they are.”


As are people.

One of the most difficult messages to communicate to my students this term has been that they are the most important person, that they are in control, that they are the adult in the room, that each one of them, as they are, are at the center of the class.

The students seems to expect magic, yet many do not realize that they are the magicians. I’m just there to assist, pushing at the right time for them, handing them the sized hat, applauding when the rabbit hops out. Or maybe it’s a dove, if they prefer birds.

I teach at my best the more I get to know my students as they are, and who they are. I’m so skeptical of education that trends away from this.

EdTech Support

We need not throw in our hand. Instead, it is clear that we need to re-engineer both, to ask not what is the best way to use technology, but what is the best way to engage, excite, and instruct students, and then ask how technology can contribute.


This article shows the negative side of trying to introduce edtech without direction or support. In addition to using technology intentionally, I think the question can also be asked: who will support classroom instructors in the use of technology so that the burden isn’t on them to figure the pedagogy and literacy of it out?

Becoming fluent in a technology is time consuming for anyone, especially when it’s not part of workflow.


Dreams of Education

I don’t quite know how to explain what I am about to say, but sometimes when I am falling asleep, it is my hands that begin to dream first, before my brain does.

Butt-dialing’ has emerged in recent years as a beautiful means of describing unintentional cellphone calls. The implication is that the butt has no intentions, and can carry out no actions, but by a technological glitch has done something by accident…


This is such an interesting blog post, because it breaks down into parts a whole (the human body) in intentional contexts that almost always consider that whole as a whole and nothing less.

I often find myself imagining the relationship of cells and organs to a body as an analogy for people and communities to a society. Obviously, this analogy is limited because of this idea of intention, but it’s also interesting to think that the presence/lack of intention in each of these examples is flipped: Generally, with the cells/body example it is the larger entity that had intention; and with the people/society example, it is the smaller one.

But, is this so obvious?

This post challenges my generalizations, and in doing so challenges the habitually anthropomorphic ways that I see the world.

Anyway, I also see a connection here to education. Breaking down an overarching learning goal, subject, or theme, and letting the individual skills engulf the body in change, slowly, skill by skill.

Recently, I try to get my student to not think of themselves as “learning English” but to add to their perspective that they are developing strands and skills like speaking for fluency, listening for main ideas, listening for chunks of words, writing for structure, writing for accuracy, and reading for pleasure, just to name a few.

Then, if they do this, they can start to feel the dream enter through that smaller skill, slowly engulfing the larger entity of learning English.

Maybe for them it’s as difficult as me considering that a part of my body, like the hands, have intention of their own. Or, that butts can dial. This is the dream, though. This is how it spreads.


More: about scale here and here