Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


A Souq-Like SOOC

There has been a lot of discussion recently about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

I am grateful to Stephen Downes’ OLDaily and George Siemens for regular updates about MOOC opportunities and debate.

I was fortunate to be a participant in the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08) open online course. George Siemens writes of this:

In 2008, Stephen Downes and I offered an open online course Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08).  As our registration numbers increased to about 2300 students, Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander dubbed the course offering a “massive open online course” or MOOC. The term has stuck and both Dave and Bryan will eventually be inducted into the edtech hall of fame for great word inventage. Since that first course, Stephen, Dave, and I have offered a whack of different courses: CCK09, CCK11, CCK12, Future of Education, PLENK, LAK11, LAK12, Change11, Critical Literacies, and so on. All told, we are likely approaching about 20,000 registrants for our MOOCs (there is overlap from different courses, so the unique registrants would be less).

My thinking about learning was transformed by CCK08 and has been developed by peripheral participation in a number of the other MOOCs George mentions.

I have been contemplating a modest alternative to the MOOC … a SOOC (a Small Open Online Course). I do think the principles of MOOCs are scalable.

I like the idea of a SOOC that has characteristics of its like-sounding souq. According to Wikipedia a souq is:

an open-air marketplace. Historically, souqs were held outside of cities in the location where a caravan loaded with goods would stop and merchants would display their goods for sale. Souqs were held when there was a caravan or more available. At that time, souqs were more than just a market to buy and sell goods; they were also major festivals and many cultural and social activities took place in them.

The SOOC I have in mind is a mother SOOC that will lead to daughter and granddaughter SOOCs. I am planning a five topic SOOC in The Observation and Analysis of Performance in Sport. One of the challenges for me is how to support non-linear personal learning. At present the SOOC’s five topics are:

  • Connecting and Sharing
  • Observing Performance
  • Visualising Data
  • Knowledge Discovery in Databases
  • Augmented Reality


I see the Connecting and Sharing topic as the key to supporting involvement in the SOOC. I am keen to persuade colleagues that sharing is the competitive edge in sport. Thereafter there will be a weekly progression through the topics but I realise that the caravans that bring ideas and energy may not coincide with this rhythm.

I am exploring too how this kind of approach resonates with open badges and formal recognition of learning through a qualification framework.

My concept of the SOOC is that it is a fractal of all other activity imbued with a commitment to open, self-paced intrinsically motivated learning.

I see each step in the geneaology of the SOOC triggered by the parent SOOC but increasingly open through generational change to including and crowdsourcing participants’ interests and knowledge. I hope that this approach establishes the connectivist aspirations of this form of sharing.

I am looking at ways to develop this SOOC with tools developed by Adam Brimo at OpenLearning.

Photo Credit

Life offers you tools …

Souq, Aleppo


Treasure Trove


Last week was another treasure trove week for me. It started with my daughter Beth’s first blog post and concluded with news of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) running at present.

Treasure Baskets

Beth’s post about treasure baskets set me off thinking about the possibilities of guided discovery in play. I thought too about the personalisation that might occur in learning as teachers and coaches adapt the idea of a treasure basket to their own learning environments. A treasure basket is a collection of everyday objects chosen to stimulate the different senses. I followed up on Beth’s discussion of the role the basket has in heuristic play.

Elaine Lambe notes that heuristic play “is the term used to describe play for babies, infants and toddlers that actively encourages exploration by using and developing their senses.” As with all treasure troves one discovery leads to another and through Elaine’s post I found Elinor Goldschmied‘s work. Valerie Jackson has provided a great insight into Elinor’s work. I liked Valerie’s observation that:

Elinor understood the importance of accepting every child as a unique and gifted individual. She didn’t waste time trying to categorise or label children as having special needs, additional needs or anything else. They were all children and we were all the people tasked with the responsibility to encourage and raise good citizens.

She understood that learning to negotiate and compromise are positive skills to allow children to develop so that friendships grow and become strong in the nursery years so that the process of maturation and finally reaching adulthood becomes less arduous and isolating. If a child has one particular adult with whom they can develop a positive relationship during their time away from family, such as in the nursery, then their stay is less traumatic and their play and learned behaviours become more positive. From this, the idea of a key person has evolved and is currently promoted by the Early Years Foundation Stage in the United Kingdom.

Elinor worked with Sonia Jackson to write about People Under Three. I think their work has enormous implications for all learning. I will follow up on their key person ideas. “The key person makes sure that, within the day-to-day demands of thesetting, each child for whom they have special responsibility feels individual, cherished and thought about by someone inparticular while they are away from home.”


The concept of a key person was reinforced for me this week with news of two MOOC events. Learning and Knowledge Analytics (LAK11) has been underway for a week. After my participation in CCK08 I have viewed George Siemens as a key person in my learning and trust implicitly his making sense of the world. I am impressed constantly by George’s energy as a guide and catalyst for learning. I will struggle to be an active participant in LAK11 and hope that legitimate peripheral participation is acceptable. There are some great resources available at LAK11 … a wonderful trove. I liked Dave Cormier’s post this week about the roles that can be played in a MOOC.

Stephen Downes is another key person in my learning. I have been writing about Stephen’s work from the origins of this blog. Many of my posts are inspired by links Stephen shares in OLDaily. Stephen is facilitating CCK11 with George Siemens. The course outline is here and week 1 news is here. I was interested to read George’s observation that “We are doing away with the central-space of Moodle – our final break from the LMS and will be using only the commenting feature within gRSShopper. While it might not seem like a huge change on the surface, it is probably our most significant experiment to date.” I found a newer version of Kroc Carmen’s post about RSS via a link in OLDaily.

Both courses are treasure baskets for me. It is great to start the day in Australia with news of goings on in Canada. I have an opportunity to explore ideas some fifteen hours ahead of convivial discussion in the Northern Hemisphere.


Sonia Jackson points out that Elinor Goldschmied’s first job was “in the junior school of Dartington Hall, the “progressive” school in Devon, where she stayed for five years. Dartington in the 1930s provided an exciting cultural and political environment which changed her view of the world.” The post that started me off on this reflection on treasure trove was written by a pupil at the Park School, Dartington. Beth was at the school in the late 1980s and like Elinor has been profoundly influenced by the possibilities of play in learning.

I am immensely proud of Beth’s entry into blogging. Her vision is to find ways to share knowledge and connect parents of young children. She, George and Stephen have a great deal in common in the altruism of connecting.

Leave a comment

Working Together

Last year I wrote a large number of posts about personal learning. Towards the end of the year I started to think about how spaces provide opportunities to connect personal learning. This year I am hoping to develop these ideas about Commons spaces. I hope too to explore how we talk about and write about these spaces.

My first post for 2011 is about collective intelligence. Back in September, 2010, Science published a paper by Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone titled Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. The authors noted that:

In two studies with 699 people, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group’s performance on a wide variety of tasks. This “c factor” is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

The ACA Wiki observes of this study that:

c was correlated with the average social sensitivity of the group and in the equality of term turn-taking as measured through socio-metric badges in the group. It was also correlated with the proportion of females in the group although OLS regressions implied that this was because females were more likely to take turns an to be more socially sensitive.

I was intrigued by the mention of socio-metric badges in this report and discovered from a paper by Benjamin Waber and Sandy Pentland that these badges are capable of:

  • Recognizing common daily human activities (such as sitting, standing, walking, and running) in real time using a 3-axis accelerometer.
  • Extracting speech features in real time to capture non-linguistic social signals such as interest and excitement, the amount of influence each person has on another in a social interaction, and unconscious back-and-forth interjections, while ignoring the words themselves in order to assuage privacy concerns.
  • Performing indoor user localization by measuring received signal strength and using triangulation algorithms that can achieve position estimation errors as low as 1.5 meters, which also allows for detection of people in close physical proximity.
  • Communicating with Bluetooth enabled cell phones, PDAs, and other devices to study user behavior and detect people in close proximity.
  • Capturing face-to-face interaction time using an IR sensor that can detect when two people wearing badges are facing each other within a 30°-cone and one meter distance.

Larry Irons has an interesting discussion of this work in his post Gossip, Collaboration and Performance in Distributed Teams.

There are some very important privacy issues in using these badges. Benjamin and Sandy discuss them in detail in Reality Mining. I would be very happy to wear such a badge as art of my daily working environment. I am keen to discover how working together in real spaces might add to working together in virtual spaces.

There will be some interesting opportunities for me to explore collective intelligence in 2011. At the University of Canberra I will be able to work in a number of shared spaces and explore the emergence of pedagogy and practice. In cyberspace I hope to participate in a number of massive open online courses (MOOC) including Learning Analytics and Knowledge, and Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011,

Some colleagues from an earlier MOOC (CCK08) have provided some fascinating insights into MOOC behaviour. Recently Lisa Lane discussed a spectrum of MOOC design. Jenny Mackness has been exploring connectivism and lurking. Carmen Tschofen has been helping me understand situated learning and ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ (and led me to this infed blog post about communities of practice).

My participation in Commons spaces will be guided as it has been for the last three years by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. They act as wonderful compasses for me. Dave Cormier has some advice too in his YouTube MOOC video:

What an exciting year ahead!


Edging to Open Learning in Open Spaces

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Ballarat to discuss Edgeless Challenges and Opportunities. I have been thinking a great deal about learning spaces and the function (rather than the form) of the university of late. In part these thoughts have been stimulated by the University of Canberra’s development of teaching and learning commons.

This week I have been overwhelmed by the number of connections I am finding in relation to open learning and sharing. Some of these connections include:

many universities have an educational technology department that is focused on PD. Research institutes devoted to understanding the intersection of education, technology, systemic reform, and pedagogy are less rare. Several years ago, Phil Long (CEIT) and I discussed the need for a collaborative network of research labs/academies/institutes that were focused on researching learning technologies, not solely on driving institutional adoption. Perhaps it’s time to revisit that idea.

  • Discovering A.K.M. Maksud’s 2006 paper The Nomadic Bede Community And Their Mobile School Program after listening to an interview with Irene Khan. Boat schools bring a different perspective on edgeless learning opportunities and mobile learners. (Sharing this paper with a colleague brought me Simon Shum and Alexandra Okada’s paper Knowledge Cartography for Open Sensemaking Communities (2008) from the Journal of Interactive Media in Education and from another colleague Kenn Fisher’s discussion of Mode 3 Learning: The Campus as Thirdspace.)

  • Finding Cisco’s paper (June 2010) on Hyperconnectivity through a Diigo link. Hyperconnectivity is defined as:

active multitasking on one hand, and passive networking on the other. Passive networking consists largely of background streaming and downloading. Ambient video (nannycams, petcams, home security cams, and other persistent video streams) is an element of passive networking that opens up the possibility for the number of video minutes crossing the network to greatly exceed the number of video minutes actually watched by consumers.

  • In the past year, the Cisco paper notes that:

it has become clear that visual networking applications are often used concurrently with other applications and sometimes even other visual networking applications, as the visual network becomes a persistent backdrop that remains “on” while the user multitasks or is engaged elsewhere. This trend accompanies what is sometimes called the widgetization of Internet and TV, as network traffic expands beyond the borders of the browser window and the confines of the PC.

Traditional approaches to community regeneration which define communities in solely geographic terms have severe limitations. They often failed to deliver on key social capital improvements such as improving trust between residents or fostering a greater sense of belonging.

In this report we argue for a new approach to community regeneration, based on an understanding of the importance of social networks, such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

  • Noting in Harold Jarche’s post Innovation through network learning that he now takes for granted his “network learning processes, using social bookmarking; blogging and tweeting, and these habits make collaboration much easier”. He observes that:

However, these habits and practices have taken several years to develop and may not come easily to many workers. One difficult aspect of adopting network learning in an organization is that it’s personal. If not, it doesn’t work. Everybody has to develop their own methods, though there are frameworks and ideas that can help.

All this before I started exploring the treasure trove that arrives in my in box each day from Stephen Downes! Early on in the week I noted Stephen’s comment on Education and the Social Web: “A theory of connections can’t be just about forming connections; it has to be about the organization, shape and design of networks of connection, patterns of connectivity. And to me, this means that we need to design learning systems to meet personal, not political, social or commercial, objectives.” Later in the week in a discussion of two MOOC posts, Stephen suggests that: “It’s about attitude and approach. If you’re looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.”

This week has underscored for me the rich possibilities that can occur in shared spaces. My thoughts keep returning to Dharavi and the opportunities for personal wayfinding in shared spaces that afford a collective, connected experience too. I am very hopeful that the University of Canberra’s Commons ideas can stimulate innovative use of place, space and time and lead to an exciting edgy practice.

Photo Credits

Kaptai Lake

Hole in Wall

Moodle on the Move


A day after posting this I received a link to a delightful flash mob video. I wondered if open learning spaces might stimulate this kind of event.

Other Links

2nd Annual Learning Commons Development and Design Forum, 30-31 March 2011, Brisbane.

  • Learning Commons strategy and organisational structures
  • Planning and design
  • Case studies and best practices
  • Digital information and technologies
  • Online resources


Association, Aggregation and Acknowledgement


In the last year I have been exploring how a connectivist approach to sharing information might support the flourishing of digital communities of practice in sport. In this post I:

  1. Signal the development of an International Content Partnership in high performance sport.
  2. Note discussions about the role an International Association for Sports Information (IASI) can play in a connected world.

I hope that both these items will help me explore association, aggregation and acknowledgement as important attributes of adopting a connectivist approach to learning. (I like Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John Smith’s (2009) approach to learning in this context: “We see learning as an integral part of life. Sometimes it demands an effort; sometimes it is not even our goal. But it always involves who we are, what we do, who we seek to connect with, and what we aspire to become.

George Siemens (2004) has identified some key principles of connectivism. These principles frame my understanding of how we might build self-organising groups interested in the sharing of information (see, Stephen Downes (2007)). In a connectivist aproach:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality.

In the next part of the post I will share some information about an emerging partnership in high performance sport.

International Content Partnership

Richard Young (Technology, Research and Innovation, SPARC, New Zealand) is developing an international content partnership with its foundation in HP Sport.

New Zealand has developed a knowledge capture and collaboration website that has been operational in its present form for nine months. It was set up for New Zealand coaches and athletes and restricted international access.  However, after a short period of time New Zealand opened access to the website and membership grew to twenty-four countries.  The site developers were surprised by the interest in and by the quality of contributions from people unconnected with New Zealand high performance sport.

As a result of this interest the developers decided to take the next step and connect to other countries that may be facing the same issues and who may see benefit in a common location for non-secret, useful information. An international contribution platform could serve as a high caliber resource making it faster to find information that is publicly available or repeated across a number of countries. This information would include, for example, conference video, keynote speaker interviews, research papers, calendar events and world championship results. This information could be accessed (uploaded or linked) through any partnered site.

Richard has invited those interested in the partnership to join ( and have a look at the content and functionality of the site. The intention is that it will operate as an independent site built for the global high performance community.

At present there is no agreed structure to this collaborative initiative. It is a dynamic system that will be developed by partners who see the potential of volitional involvement in the processes of association, aggregation and acknowledgement.

I am involved with the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) too. At present this organisation is exploring its role and relevance in a digital community of shared information. In the next part of the post I want to use three exchanges about the place of IASI to further my consideration of association, aggregation and acknowledgement.


The first contribution comes from a new member of the IASI Steering Group. This member wrote as follows:

The purpose of my email is to ask questions I have and, in some way, to put one’s foot in one’s mouth. Things are getting confused about the ex-IASI…

Indeed, as I understood, IASI was disbanded in 2009. The reasons why are not quite clear to me. Maybe the reason was the lack of candidate for presidency. In that case, we should wonder why there was no candidate.

A steering group was then created and supposed to discuss the situation one year later and decide whether it was worth continuing or not. One has to admit that nothing really happens during this period, not even on the Ning platform that was dedicated to the discussion.

Well, I wondered why. Perhaps the IASI is not necessary anymore. Maybe the elite sport context is nowadays too competitive and countries are not eager anymore to share information about… information !

So I think the real question is : are we ready to group and share information about the way we work ? maybe bilateral exchanges are easier and more adequate.

Admitting we meet next year, what are we ready to communicate on?

I need to clarify the situation before taking the decision about the possible need of a meeting. I hope you will understand my initiative and accept the debate.

A member of the IASI Steering Group responded a few days later:

The email raised several questions which are really crucial to discuss before putting more effort into a possible future of a body designated to support international cooperation and communication in our field of expertise. The questions put forward have been waiting for reliable and sustaining answers for several years.

When IASI was discontinued in Canberra in 2009 that decision was only the final point of a development which we had experienced for a couple of years.

When the email arrived I thought (again) that would be a good starting point to discuss what the different elite sport research institutions and the information/documentation/communication specialists in our field consider worth working for by means of international cooperation.

My position is clear. As a first step I am really interested in international discussion and communication on what we think could and should be done for our major clients – the coaches and the scientific support staff working together with them. And because we are all living in the same world of international elite sport smart experts “see” the same problems and “see” similar solutions (in agreement with the basic national approach in elite sport). So my intention (still) is to initiate international communication on national solutions, discussion on possible international contributions, readiness to present these approaches to colleagues. Of course, we are also in a competitive position as we are working for our national elite sport, but that should not prevent us from talking about what we consider reasonable and effective to serve our clients. That does not mean that we open up all our national doors to everybody, but we have a lot to learn from each other.  And I am convinced that we are not yet faced with such kind of competitiveness that would prohibit those international contacts.

By the way, many of our “mother” institutions are members of the International Association of High Performance Sports Training Centres and have a regular cooperation there (my institute joined that international association only a couple of months ago). So the management of our institutes obviously consider a membership in that association worthwhile (maybe this association might also be or become a framework for international contacts in our field of expertise).

I cannot see any bigger difference between several bilateral contacts (with Tokyo, Magglingen, Canberra or Paris, which I am happy to have very good contacts with) and multilateral/international contacts. Only the latter, for me, is more effective and more interesting.

For me the most critical point in the email was the willingness of institutions and persons to contribute, which obviously is very limited.  I absolutely agree that we need to understand if there is a “content” for international cooperation and if we have or would like to develop “methods” of international communication and cooperation in information/documentation/communication in elite sport and elite sport research. Is the missing discussion on that topic an expression of no need for international communication and cooperation? If the answer is yes, it would be of no use to put more effort into a revitalisation of an international association.

In the months since the Canberra decision to discontinue IASI I step by step have understood that a well established organisation as IASI needs more input to live.

So even though the last year has not just been encouraging, I am not yet willing to accept that the need for resp. interest in international contacts within the formal framework of an international organisation is vanishing. That has also been the major reason to offer international information and communication experts in elite sport and elite sport research a forum to meet and discuss next year in Leipzig, but, honestly speaking, today I do not really expect a huge interest in this “event”.

To sum it up, I am less convinced today that there is a real future for IASI, but I am really convinced that there is a need for international exchange and communication.

In a third email, the coordinator of the IASI Steering Group wrote in response to the first email from a new member:

Thank you for being forthright and honest in your email. I agree with your observations concerning the confused status of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI).

IASI experienced a technical dissolution in 2009 due to a combination of factors. It is my view that these factors include:

  • the global financial crisis and subsequent contraction of national sport (sport library, research and travel) budgets
  • IASI’s failure (as a group) to respond to a global paradigm shift in the way information and knowledge is shared;  and,
  • the membership’s unwillingness to commit to more of the same.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) remains committed to international collaboration in all areas of sport and active recreation. I believe there is a need and place for a revitalised IASI today more so than ever before. It is my hope that IASI will reform with a genuinely committed membership – that is a membership willing to make a contribution beyond simply attending annual meetings that conclude with no real outcomes.

In the meantime, I intend to review (and possibly upgrade) our site at: The purpose of establishing this site in May 2009 was to ensure the organisation and its members continued to have some form of international  connectivity and visibility.

It is a ‘lifeboat’ of sorts. At this stage we are considering implementing two levels of membership on the site – an open membership level for all sport information enthusiasts, and a closed and much smaller membership group for key international IASI partners (i.e. those progressive members who are prepared to make a genuine contribution to IASI). I am keen to receive the Steering Group’s guidance here.

Additionally, we continue to maintain the IASI Listserv. However, I plan to decommission this in the near future and will encourage anyone who wants to stay connected to move to the Ning site. The future (or no future) of IASI is really in our hands.

I applaud you for raising these very relevant and timely questions with this group.


News of an international content partnership and the attempts to revitalise IASI are both important signposts for me about the need to find connectivist approaches to sharing and supporting in sport.

My position is that a community of practice is sustainable with voluntary effort, drive, energy and passion. I like Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John Smith’s (2009) vision of and for technology stewarding. ‘Technology stewards’ are individuals who take responsibility for a community’s technology resources for a time. Technology stewards are:

people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with or interest in technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewarding typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community. (Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John Smith’s (2009, page 25).

I do think that people do have a finite amount of energy to give. The appeal of a connectivist approach for me is that “learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources”. My hope is that a community has sufficient awareness of its constituency so that it is possible for stewardship to pass to others, from node to node.

I am hopeful that the International Content Partnership and IASI can find stewards for their work. From my perspective association, aggregation and acknowledgement are keystones of non-zero sum approaches to learning.

The more complex societies get and the more complex the networks of interdependence within and beyond community and national borders get, the more people are forced in their own interests to find non-zero-sum solutions. That is, win–win solutions instead of win–lose solutions…. Because we find as our interdependence increases that, on the whole, we do better when other people do better as well — so we have to find ways that we can all win, we have to accommodate each other…. (Bill Clinton)

I do believe that the competitive edge in sport is to share and collaborate. I see this as the way for sport to remain relevant. I think sports information can lead the way in this sharing … if we can connect our energy and passion.

Photo Credit

Scaffolding Sculpture


Blue Scaffold