This was taken during a session as part of the Open Education 2009 conference in Vancouver. David Wiley and Stephen Downes were meeting, to prepare a manuscript for a book on open education, and they agreed to conduct the meeting as an open conversation. The venue that was provided set the tone – the meeting took place in an old courtroom, with all of the trappings still visible, abandoned, behind them as they talked.
The conversation was epic, with this session alone lasting for several hours. They covered issues in amazing depth, working back and forth to try to figure things out. There was obvious tension between the two – although they are both strong proponents of open education, they approach the topic from what are essentially opposite positions. This has worked out well, but the dialogue is often tense as each tries to understand the other’s perspective. I remember being impressed that they kept trying, and didn’t just storm out of the room. They’re both fantastic people, and genuinely want to change the world (or, at least, to help make education better).
I took this photo while sitting in the audience, listening to the conversation. I was struck by the symmetry of the courtroom, and by the expressions on their faces. Exhausted. Frustrated. But trying to work together.