Saturday, April 14, 2012


       I think everyone in this class would agree that this has been nothing like we ever imagined college to be. For some it was a breath of fresh air while for others is was a rod jamming their tire spokes. 

For me it was somewhere on the fresh air side but one thing is for sure; this class has changed the way I will view future learning.   
       In my previous reflective blog post I went through what I had learned up to then and how I got there. Admittedly, I was fairly confused even then and if you would like to know from the beginning of the semester till then I would direct you to that. Since then, however, I feel that I have been able to make a small clearing in this jungle we call 'self directed learning.' I had never really contemplated the fact that our learning is not self directed. In traditional school we are pulled, pushed, or kicked in the way the instructor would like us to go. The typical student has become complacent with this and, like a rag doll, has simply gone along for the ride.
       Coming to this class reminded me of a communist country being liberated. Not everyone immediately wanted it or even knew what to do with their new found freedom. Should I work harder or just stop working at all? Consciously or subconsciously I believed this question crossed every student's mind. It took a while to know what to do but for me it wasn't till my openness blog post that I feel I started understanding what was going on. I began to recognize the problem which was vital to solving the issue. This was the beginning to a few leaps which has led me to really believe that self directed leaning is not only desirable but actually possible. Even within the confines of standard education I can be a self directed learner. It will take quite a bit more effort than being a rag doll student but the things in life worth having seem to be those we work the hardest for.

finding people

To be honest, I feel that I did fairly well in contacting people about our book and event. Here is who I contacted:

1. Facebook - I had a few people watch online because of posting on Facebook
2. Google+
3. Open Government group on Linkedin - Surprisingly, A few people expressed interest in the event.
4. Rachael Chappell - Sister who does home school and was interested in how education will be affected  by openness. She could only watch the beginning before the video went choppy and died because of her humble computer. She emailed me and said that she thinks openness may be only for people who are up-to-date. An interesting point to be discussed.
5. Trey Ratcliff (creative commons advocate) - I attempted to get in his circles but unfortunately he has too many people following him and never replied.
6. Michael Nielsen (Author of Reinventing Discovery) - We exchanged emails about the book and gave a couple good thoughts which we tried to implement in the book. 
7. Richard Baraniuk (Professor at Rice University and gave a ted talk about openness) - I also talked to him about the book. We sent a few emails back and forth and he expressed interest in the event. I haven't heard if he was able to watch or not.

I also attempted to contact two other professionals by email but never got a response. If you count my wife and other immediate family and friends it could come to ten but these were the best ones. I was surprised I was able to converse with some professionals who are advocating openness. It was very entertaining and I learned that connecting with people is only as hard as you make it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Openness: An Annotated Bibliography

       My research process has been fairly internet heavy. This is because I have been studying much of how the current open via digital media is changing how we think about information. I also was able to find quiet a few interesting things in the bibliographies of the things I read
       This bibliography shows that there are people out there who believe in many levels of openness. There are people in every field commenting and writing about this important subject. This proves that it is not a black and white subject. There are obviously problems or there would not have to be anyone fighting for the open idea.

Further Readings

Thought Leaders
  • Trey Ratcliff ( Trey is a computer specialist turned photographer. He is an advocate for creative commons and making art open to the public. All his photos online are in full quality and free to download. I plan on using a photo of his and to use him as an example of how people can be open and still make money in their field. [I found him while searching for professionals involved with creative commons]
  • Richard Baraniuk( Richard is a professor at Rice University. He spoke at a ted conference and is the founder of Connexions, a free, open-source, global clearinghouse of course materials. [I found him at the beginning of the course when researching openness]
  • Michael Nielsen ( Michael is "This is the most highly cited physics publication of the last 25 years, and one of the ten most highly cited physics books of all time (Source: Google Scholar, December 2007)." He wrote the book Reinventing Discovery and is an advocate for open science. [I found him after reading the book Reinventing Discovery]


Saturday, March 17, 2012


One of the major advancements of openness was the printing press. Pervious to this, books could take months or years to make one copy. This made books extremely expensive and therefore unattainable for the common person. While printing was relatively slow to begin with one of the first books to be printed, the bible, had a serious effect on the society of the day.  Religion was the first to feel the enormous effects of printing. Before, the preacher was the only one with the bible and was likely the only one who could read. Suddenly, however, people could get their own copy and had a reason to read. The fight for openness began. People began questioning the teachings of individual churches and began to come up with their own interpretations. This led to people like Martin Luther and William Tindale to speak out about the way the church was being run which opened the door for the protestant reformation.
In the 16th and 17th centuries openness was again revolutionized by printing. With the widespread use of the printing press, suddenly the education spread as fast as books could. This was a time where new inventions and new thoughts crept into society and science began to take foot. We are currently going through a similar process but at an infinitely faster rate. With the development of the internet the open movement began, causing us to reflect back and realize that the buildup to this age wasn’t simply the advancement of the computer, but a traceable change in in history of how our society thinks about knowledge.  
One of the uses of the printing press during this time period was scientific papers. Before these existed there was a serious problem in the scientific community. Scientists have a resource, their knowledge and findings. This resource was extremely precious and often hard to come by. Obviously, they would have wanted to protect their findings so no one could steal them and claim them as their own. Because of this fear, everything was closed.
Following the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century (most of this occurred in between 1660 and 1793), a group of scientists got together and formed some official scientific societies. Some were government-sponsored (like the Royal Society of London, still around today) and some were private, but they were all organized for what was essentially open science for the time. They knew a problem existed and they needed a solution. These groups gave scientists an environment to share their ideas without fear and gave them a way to be paid. This movement towards openness, however, has ironically become the main source of frustration to its proponents today. Due to changes in technology and expectations, a movement for openness created a closed system.
Today, there is a movement against these scientific papers. In this digital world these papers and journals are seen as slowing the speed of information, just as copying a book by hand used to be seen as the inefficient process. Now there are web sites where you can learn about thousands of topics for free. Some examples are:
These sites and many others are dedicated to bringing a new ability to learn to everyone around the world for free. Just as the printing press brought learning to the masses, knowledge no longer has to be for those who go to college. It is incredible what has been done but it must be done with caution. The sites listed are open to users but not at all open to publishers. This is important because while everyone can and should be a consumer of knowledge, producers should have limitations. There is a balance which must be found. This is a topic which has been and will be debated. According to history, having an open society will make us better off. We just have to be careful what we consume and create.
            As an example, the book Reinventing discovery goes over the complexities of open sourcing. Although there are many different examples of open sourcing, two that most people are familiar with are Linux and Wikipedia. These open projects have truly innovated ways of being open. Like with the advent of the printing press, this new way of creating an open society has placed expectations which society now lives with. These processes of innovations must come with any development in spreading information and openness. Someone had to think of creating everything from parchment and pen to the internet itself and everything in between. As we look through history there is always some major invention or innovation which causes or help produce and spread knowledge. The irony is, that these changes have made things which were once viewed as be best was to be open, like scientific papers, an enemy to openness.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't want to pay for Office?

Here are two great alternatives to the over-priced Microsoft Office. Both are open software meaning they are free! Similar to Linux, many people have come together to create these amazing resources. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Were my great grandparents digitally literate?

Although my great grandparents never had the internet or social media, I believe they were as digitally literate as someone could be in the 1940s. Recently I have finished putting all 10 hours of silent video captured by my great grandfather to digital format. He was an amateur film maker and spent countless hours filming and putting together these videos which I only vaguely knew about until recently. This has made me wonder what the definition of "digitally literate" actually is. Will our great grandchildren view us as digitally literate or will they say we didn't have enough technology to truly be digitally literate?  In my head, I would say that to be digitally literate means to keep up with the social world, to strive to learn what you can with what you have. Just because you don't have tons of resources doesn't mean you are not digitally literate. The African man who used the one computer in his village to find out how he could make his plants grow better through science blogs is much more digitally literate than the teenager who spends ump-teen hours a day on Facebook and other useless activities on the web. From what I have seen in the videos I have watched, my great grandfather strove to be on the cutting-edge of the time and to use what he had for good purposes. I believe that it was this time and these desires in the 20th century that paved a way for the want and then need for a digital world. People want to communicate better. Just think of how many inventions have came about because someone wanted a better way to communicate, made it, and then everyone wanted to use it. There are countless examples and will only be more in the future. For my great grandpa, the best way he saw he could communicate to the future was through his silent films. Now my wife and I have begun a video blog, inspired by his desire to show us his life. I am grateful he was digitally literate enough to do it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reflecting on the semester

For the last day or so I have been thinking about this blog. I feel that I am more a follower of the blog then a poster and that I have learned a bit about a lot by having it. I have tried to keep things relevant but have not had much success. I believe I began preaching open learning. This was because our group presented on the first day and I got excited about the possibilities. I still am excited but the subject changed as I found that there were many people talking about open learning but no one with any real ideas for a project. At least, none that could feasibly be done by our class.
Next came open government. I enjoy following politics and I feel that there is a giant void in our society of people who don't care at all. One group presented about it an I tried to take it and run. The problem was, run where? This time I had an idea that would work and we could do. The problem was that it was not grounded in history. I made a few shallow attempts to do so but it felt empty. I could talk to people in person about my ideas but when it came to the digital world no one expressed interest. I even joined an e-government group on linked in and posted a few of my ideas with links to my blog but nothing caught. And thus it is that I am beginning to change ideas again. I haven't decided on anything specific but I am trying. There are times when I feel involved with the class  but for the most part I feel separated and unable to connect. I guess I will continue to formulate ideas and attempt to gather social proofing but I don't feel successful quite yet. Part of the process I guess.