Connections: A Free eBook

One of my favorite people on the planet, Dr. Richard Schwier, has just released his new free eBook titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. Read about the book here, or download directly from this link. The book is in .epub format, so if you are unfamiliar with how to handle that format, see this resource.

A little bit about the book:

This ebook pulls together the big ideas from our work for educators who might actually be able to put what we have learned to good use. That’s what this book is about—making sense of online learning communities. In a sense it isn’t original; it is rewritten out of material the VLC Research Lab already created along with a healthy dose of my own speculations. So it is selective rather than comprehensive. It doesn’t attempt to pull together all of the excellent work and writing about online learning.

This is also an experiment with this digital form of a book. The ebook format offers a number of fresh affordances and imposes some really difficult layout restrictions. The book includes a number of links to resources and examples. Every chapter has a video introduction that you can jump to if you want to get the big idea without combing through an entire chapter to dig it out. And by the time I release the next edition, I hope to discover a reasonable way to embed videos into the document, instead of having to link to external files.

Thank you Rick for pushing the boundaries on academic writing and sharing this work for free and in the open. I’ve downloaded it to my iPad, and I can’t wait to read it.

Considering CC-NonCommercial?

About a year ago, I posted a short video on Flickr of my daughter that captured her first moments riding a bicycle without training wheels. When I post images or video to Flickr, I usually assign a Creative Commons license, specifically a Non-Commercial, Attribution, Share-Alike (NC-ATT-SA). When I share moments like this online, I do so for a number of reasons. First, there’s the obvious reason that I like making moments like this accessible to my close friends and family. Second, while I could password protect such videos to share with only a small group, I also like to share such moments with many of my trusted friends from around the world (of which there are too many to list). And third, I believe that in carefully discriminating what to post online and what to avoid, I may, in some ways, demonstrate and model responsible citizenship and personal identity management for my children. Now, not everyone feels as comfortable in posting such photographs and videos online as I do. But in the spirit of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, I ask you not to necessarily buy what I do, but if anything, buy why I do it.

So, several months after posting the video of my daughter, I received a Facebook message from a representative of regarding licensing the video clip. At first, I thought this was going to be some sort of Nigerian 419 scam, but after I performed some careful research about the individual and the company, I ended up licensing the clip to the agency for a new Nokia commercial.

Now, with all the thousands of clips and images I have shared, this is the first time I have ever been paid for something. It may never happen again nor has money ever been a consideration. But, I can think of hundreds of instances where my work, my images, or my videos have shown up elsewhere for educational purposes. For instance, Raj Boora just notified me today that one of my images showed up in this education-related post. While the attribution format could have been a bit more direct (as noted by D’Arcy Norman), I am happy to see my photos being used to help express such ideas.

I guess I should get to the point. I have heard the argument from many people over the years that they didn’t feel right just ‘giving away’ all of their ‘stuff’. For me, I am happy to give away my work, especially if it is found useful, and ideally, if others add to the work or improve it. But if that is not enough for those who refuse to consider Creative Commons licenses, perhaps they should also know that with this CC-NC licensed clip, my daughter now has a very healthy start to her College fund.

Google. Where’s Our Doc?

A few days ago, there were several of us on Twitter discussing the possibilities for a new open journal. Twitter is often not great for deep conversations, so following the success of the Ning Alternatives document, I thought I would tweet out a public, real-time Google Doc so people could write and share characteristics of a model, open (academic) journal.

The creation of the document moved quickly, and within minutes, we had several pages of information that helped to outline possibilities and partnerships that would help make this open journal a reality. Off the top of my head, collaborators included (I think): Jon Becker, GNA Garcia, Ira Socol, Jeremy Brueck, Tom Fullerton, George Veletsianos, Cole Camplese & Rob Wall (if you were involved, please let me know). Cole actually took a photo from his iPad while he edited from Twitterfic (see below).

Editing Document with the iPad

But then, all of a sudden, we could no longer access the document. The document now produces the following error:

Google Docs Error
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

So, I am writing this for a couple of reasons. First, we want this document back, and I’m hoping that someone at Google Docs will actually respond and help us recover it. There does not seem to be a straightforward way of getting Google’s attention, and thus, no easy way to resolve this problem. Second, I am using this as an example as a possible pitfall of depending on cloud computing. What if this was your dissertation? An important grant proposal? That book you’ve been working on? Or a document with some of your most important memories? While in this case, the issue happened so quickly that we didn’t really get a chance to take alternative measures – I hope this prompts you to keep a back up. The cloud can’t be trusted.

In any case, please forward this message along, and hopefully it gets the attention of a Google engineer that can actually do something about this, or get us some answers.


Update: As of May 4, 2010, the document is now working. Thanks everyone who passed this one. On May 3, the issue reached the Product Manager of Google Docs, and the team attacked the problem almost immediately. I received an apology, status reports, and finally, a detailed report of what had happened and how it had been fixed for the future. Overall, I am very satisfied with response I received from Google.

Session with Jon Mott & David Wiley

The Faculty of Education’s new open access journal, in education, is sponsoring a free webinar with two of our authors, Jon Mott & David Wiley. The webinar is scheduled for March 3rd, 2010 at 11 a.m. (CST). The event will be facilitated using Elluminate, a web conferencing tool. You can listen and/or participate using the following link: . It is advisable to join 10-15 minutes early in the case that your computer needs to install software (which, if necessary, is usually an easy process).

Mott & Wiley will be discussing their recent paper, “Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network” found at . The conversation will likely take us to greater issues of openness and innovation in teaching & learning (especially in higher education).

About the Presenters

Dr. Jon Mott serves as the Assistant to the Academic Vice President – Academic Technology at Brigham Young University where he provides strategic guidance on academic technology issues. He is an Adjunct Professor of Instructional Psychology & Technology and also teaches in the Masters in Public Policy Program. He is the former Managing Director of the Center for Instructional Design (now the Center for Teaching and Learning) at BYU. He earned a B.A. in political science from BYU in 1992 and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Oklahoma in 1998.

Dr. David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. He is also the Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge and Founder and board member of the Open High School of Utah. He was formerly Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University. David has been a Nonresident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, a Visiting Scholar at the Open University of the Netherlands, and a recipient of the US National Science Foundation’s CAREER grant. David is also the Founder of and was recently named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. His career is dedicated to increasing access to educational opportunity for everyone around the world. David lives in Utah with his wife, Elaine, and their five children.

More information can be found at our journal site –

An Open Access Journal is Born

We have just launched a new, open access journal titled in education. While the journal is set to cover various topics in the field, the first issue is a special volume focused on technology & social media. I was the guest editor of this issue, and you may want to read the editorial that gives an overview of the entire process, and outlines the contents of the issue.

I’d also like to use this opportunity to announce a second call for papers. The theme of the issue was quite popular, so we will be offering a second issue of the same theme to be published in Spring 2010. See the call for papers.

Please feel free to pass on the information. And, if you are interested in submitting a paper, please let me know. Thanks for reading.

Social Learning & Sharing

The learning continues in EC&I 831, and since I haven’t had much time to blog, I though I’d offer a 2-for-1 post with links to the most recent presentations for the course.

On January 27, I offered a session on the Age of Social Learning. The full Elluminate session is found here, and my slide deck is available below.

And, last night, we were very lucky to have had Dean Shareski join us as he presented “How to Be Lazy and Still Get Paid” aka “The Value of Sharing”. The recorded Elluminate session for Dean’s presentation is available here, and his slides are available below.

I really want to thank Dean for his excellent presentation last night. The participants (registered students & everyone else) have expressed gratitude for Dean’s time and wisdom on the topic.

The above presentations work well together, as do the concepts of social learning and sharing. These are ideas, when implemented, that have enormous potential for changing the shape of (online) learning. And, I’m happy to say that these are ideas that continue to shape the courses I teach and that support my ongoing belief in the power of open education.