Our Out of Print session went off pretty well (I think) this morning. Jim worked his usual Bavamagic, weaving early American history, WordPress, wikis, and student conversations into a pretty cool demo. Then, I showed some of the OpenContentDIY resource site, and rambled unexplicably for about 25 minutes. From what I remember, I either sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown, or somehow managed to touch on empowerment of students, open content and reuse as a moral imperative, communities (both in content and open source).

Some of the points that I was surprised to hear myself talking about were:

  • "flavours" of interaction imposed by various tools
  • although tools are relatively unimportant, the philosophies embodied within them subtly (and not so subtly) alters the nature of discourse
  • we need to honour and value the contributions of all participants - students add value to the conversation, so why should we lock their contributions behind a walled garden? Raving about John Willinsky's "go public!" throwaway comment from Northern Voice 2007.
  • baby stepping from closed content, through walled gardens, and into the open. important to evangelize the importance of Going Public.
  • LOTS of great alternatives for tools (wordpress, openocw, drupal, etc...) - it's more important to choose to be open, connected and social, than to worry about which tool(s) you use.
  • individual ownership of blogs is essential to meaningful conversations. Community/communal blog services lack individual "voice" in blogs - as opposed to more individual-focussed services like WordPress µ
  • likely a bunch of other stuff that's blurry at the moment. hope it wasn't blurry for the attendees...

During the presentation, Jim and I went off on some tangents that weren't in the original plan. It felt like the tangents were much more important and interesting than the simple tech demo that was originally planned. I hope that's what the attendees got. It was a bit strange for me - my thinking on the topic of Open Education and open content was shifting while I was talking. As I was speaking about this stuff, I could feel the thoughts coming together in my head. Thanks for the venue to cause that to happen!

After the presentation, I had the chance to talk with someone from Turkey (sorry! I've forgotten your name!) about the WordPress.com blockade in Turkey. I suggested she get in touch with Matt to see if there's anything they can do together to move the blogs within Turkey's borders so they can keep their communities going.

I also talked with Fred Mednick from Teachers without Borders. He's looking for some help setting up some projects in Drupal - some pretty cool stuff that should help Make a Difference. If anyone can help Fred with some Drupal configuration and pimping-out, please let me/him know.