Has everyone had a sufficient amount of time over the last year gazing into the grids of Zoom et al live sessions? Can we do anything differently?

I’ve been pushing this with an experiment in my community engagement work for Open Education Global, trying all my tricks and methods to get activity going in our Discourse powered community space. We had success there with the November 2020 annual conference but that’s a case when there is a compelling reason to go to an online space.

My newest effort is a semi to unstructured program of professional growth activities planned with the CCCOER node of OE Global. In years past, they scheduled webinar style workshops over the summer, which is more or less what they do during the year but I was approached for ideas how to do something over the this summer that would use our asynchronous community space.

They had done the right thing in member meetings and communications in soliciting areas of interest, with the results including an overall theme of Open Pedagogy practices with specifics in

  • Getting started with Open Pedagogy in small but significant ways 
  • Connecting the UN Sustainable Development Goals with Open Pedagogy
  • How Open Pedagogy can support Equity Diversity and Inclusion
  • Building Interactivity  (specifically H5P)

I volunteered for the last one … because of course I have stuff to draw from.

I tried to pitch a concept where our volunteer facilitators take on one of these to lead, and create a question, launch an activity, start a discussion with a prompt maybe every week or 2. Set up asynchronously, any one interested could do them self paced. But also we could take on topics, questions, areas of interests spontaneously when they came up.

So it’s pretty messy. My colleagues coined it The Summer Open Pedagogy Adventure with the hidden tagline of “Alan’s weird concept”. It’s all there sitting in the public

The pinned topic is the introduction. Self explanatory, or not? This is set up so our facilitators can create a top level topic, but anyone who creates an account can reply/participate in any discussion. We had great activity in the introductions, people shared their summer project plans, their pet photos, and some cooking ones. But there was also great back and forth about one participants questions on use of content in their OER.

And this group always excels in the resource sharing, so there is a good set of ones being collected for Open Pedagogy.

Because the topic list grows, I created a fixed set of topic tags, so we could group things together, like all topics related to open pedagogy or the interactivity ones (starting with the H5P series). Their group wanted to have a few synchronous sessions, these are set up every 2 weeks. I’d hoped they could be check in ones, but my sinking feeling is that’s what our organizers will focus on.

Because synchronous is familiar. Structured.

I’m trying to push at the margins here, and am encouraged somewhat by getting a few responses in the mix. But I think my idea is still out of the bell curve of expectations of webinars, workshops, presentations. I am not sure my colleagues grasp my idea. This is hardly the first time.

More likely I am just to darn impatient.

I so believe in the power of messy learning, doing what makes you curious, challenged, or just in front of you. I also hold on to that it’s just a matter of initiating enough activity (meaning Alan gets those Discourse messages about me overpopulating a topic) to create momentum.

It’s also an issue as the only communication we have told about this is via the CCCOER mailing list. I am less in trust of the Big Broadcast messages and find more effective is the private, one to one invitations. In the dwindling era of blog reading I consider this far from a broadcast. Or I can just being incessant about talking about this.

So I ask anyone interested in trying this, telling me I am a wingnut, or wanting to do open pedagogy development in an open messy way to join the activity. Just go to OEG Connect and log in or make an account (or contact me privately, I have a link that lets you create an account and bypass the moderation step). Go to the Summer Adventure and wade in. Or bring others.

One opportunity came up was when a colleague referred us to a presentation about the  Open Pedagogy Project Roadmap — a workshop developed by Christina Riehman-Murphy and Bryan McGeary at Penn State University aimed at helping faculty plan an Open Pedagogy project. They provided an overview at this week’s webinar (because webinars) but more importantly, agreed to provide the four parts of their process typically done in a face to face workshop in the asynchronous format we are running. All parts will be grouped by tag.

We just launched the first part in this series, the opening part which has the participant develop the scope of their Open Pedagogy project

which asks you to think about the scope of your open pedagogy project. You’ll be thinking about your values and goals, your capacity, and the actual project itself. It’s important to focus on the why of your project before you focus on the what of your project. You can do your work in the complete workbook. Just download and make a copy for yourself.

The idea then is to respond with questions, offer perspectives on your work– you know conversations? Back and forth? That’s how I hoped this would work.

Maybe it’s not right calling this professional development. It is to me learning in the may the internet (theoretically works) and mostly how I have learned almost everything about my craft.

What will it take to get some more people to venture into the adventure? It’s open…. and messy. Which can be beautiful.

Light chaos
Light chaos flickr photo by kevin dooley shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. really interesting Alan, thanks for sharing. I love the idea of messy professional development. I think too often we CPD is put into nice, safe boxes so everyone can clearly see what it is. Also after the past year I wonder if people are bit more risk averse about wandering around the internet? People are tired . . . but maybe this kind of approach can spark a sense of adventure and sharing again.

    1. I think I will stay in the VLE where it’s calm 😉

      What’s a “VLE”?

      Do you see how I did not use LMS?

      I don’t buy the risk averse- I’d say in our non-work, non-education internet wanderings (reading news, shopping, looking up how to fix stuff) we go pretty far afield.

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