Movement building is fun

June 14, 2006 § Leave a comment

Toronto, June 13, 2006: There is nothing like kicking off a meeting with a little DIY hula hoop party. This is exactly what we did for the open curriculum workshop held Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation over the last few days.


Tonya picked up the art of homemade hoop construction at Hollyhock‘s Social Change Institute. As the theory goes, levity and rhythm are good for movement building. Watching my colleagues from the Shuttleworth Foundation, APC, Bellanet and take a shot at hoopin’, I couldn’t agree more. Group hoopin’ is a magic combination, at once inspiringly collective and transcendentally individual. Oh, and it makes you smile. All good ingredients for giving the open curriculum movement traction.

The meeting itself had two basic aims: find ways to raise the profile of open curriculum and find opportunities for collaboration amongst people working in this space. We had all the groups from the hoopfest plus folks from the new Sun-backed GELC, TIG, ISKME, IICD‘s community of trainers project, the Hewlett Open Educational Resource project and a group at University of Washington that is studying the effectiveness of Microsoft’s community training curriculum. Facilitating pro bono and with love was my good friend Allen Gunn from Aspiration. As always, his technique of connecting passionate people to each other created a compelling display of sparks.


From the end, one of the most useful sparks was the connection to Karien Bezuidenhout from Shuttleworth (the pictured hooper above) who has been working with an open high school science tech project for three years. She’s stumbled across all the issues: motivating volunteers; managing quality; supporting collaborative writing; syncing up with certification. Tapping into real experience like this was incredibly valuable for the team members now jumping into the Mission 2007 training commons project in India. There are real lessons in Karien’s project (e.g. tricks for making sure volunteers don’t become workflow roadblocks) … and there may also be a tech platform for collaborative writing that we can build on.

Also useful from our end was a huddle of iTrainOnline partners asking: what can we contribute to this movement (and how can it put wind in our sails)? It seems there are opportunities here with both and the IICD community of trainers project. Both are engaging in peer produced curriculum experiments in a deep way. These experiments could feed back into the broader open curriculum space both through research papers (i.e. track how peer production is working through the cycle of these projects) and software pilots (e.g. test out the Social Source Commons as a way to share curriculum under the ITO banner). Also, the overall ITO partnership might benefit from the collaborative writing platform that has been developed for the open text book project backed by Shuttleworth.


Of course, there were also bigger wins … wins that may be the kernel of a movement. There was broad support for the idea of social marketing the open curriculum concept. Simply calling out a common cause (and a common brand?) for all this work will go a long way. It would also be useful to write some short think pieces, document our projects as we go and continue to convene thought leaders (albeit with a much bigger, broader and more southern-led circle). We had the good will and vision in the room to agree to these simple actions. Now all we have to do is make them happen.

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