The Open Show
Connected Learning Without Expensive Acronyms

Stars of the Show


DML 2015 Session Description

With its own history and inherent decentralized design, the internet ought to be the truly equitable participatory platform, one that will not be just another television. Yet potential is never guaranteed by technological design; the nervous system does produce our human character. Today's technological solutionism prevents us from seeing what McLuhan recognized: technologies are extensions of people (he said "man") — "tools that extend human bodies and capacities." A learning ecosystem that is unbounded and distributed, that makes mistakes and corrections, that evolves through participation — that learning ecosystem is one that ought to extend our human capacities.

This show brings together the experiences of people who have been immersed in open learning via designs that mimic the distributed/connected network of the internet itself, where the fundamental organizing units are the students/participants, learners who manage their own digital spaces.

Decentralization by Adam Aladdin Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The course then becomes one of many spaces fueled by the flow of individual actions. When we shift the locus of learning outside of an institutional platform, students gain agency over their experiences, something that meshes with the larger world they operate in beyond school.

flickr photo shared by cogdogblog under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

There is no single easy button template driven platform to build these kinds of environments, yet they are eminently achievable with open source or free tools running on the open web; millions of dollars of funding is not required. These are a mix and remix of both old and new technologies, co-mingling emergent ones with what Jon Udell describes as trailing-edge ones.

We bring together practitioners who are crafting such spaces via platforms such as Wordpress / RSS (ds106, Connected Courses), the IndieWeb (Known), and patchworks of existing platforms (e.g. Google apps + Inoreader, Wordpress) and how they can even work together. Rather than a series of presentations, this session will be run more like a talk show. The tools features are not the primary subject of the conversations; panelists will use their these designs as a way to provide references and an audience experience. Instead, we will focus on how these networked structures break learning out of the boundaries of institution, geography, and social standing while also facing up the challenges of isolation and non-inclusion:

  • How do different types of web publishing platforms help students and instructors interact online as colearners?
  • How do we better recognize and address where open learning inadvertently backfires, excluding or silencing individuals?
  • How can aggregation and syndication tools spread student-created content through the course ecosystem and beyond?

More Info on Connected Learning

Connected Learning
Image credit: creative commons licensed image from Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub

  • What is Connected Learning "Connected learning is when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them. It is a fundamentally different mode of learning than education centered on fixed subjects, one-to-many instruction, and standardized testing. " from the Connected Learning Alliance
  • Practicing the Principles of Connected LearningNew media educator Howard Rheingold interviews educator Kevin Hodgson about connected learning and how educators enact its principles with technology.
  • Connected Courses (DML) "The goal for Connected Courses is to build an inclusive and expansive network of teachers and students, and provide educational offerings that make high quality, meaningful, and socially connected learning available to everyone. The go-at-your-own-pace collaborative course is free and open to all" (first offered from September 2 to December 12, 2014).
  • Connected Courses Catalog (
  • Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed (Campus Technology) "A massive experiment at Virginia Commonwealth University involving 7,000 blogs could lead to a new view on how college students learn."
  • Distributed/Connected/Syndicated Course Examples (Open Google Doc)