From the Wikipedia article on the Mediterranean Diet:
In 2013, UNESCO added the Mediterranean diet to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Italy (promoter), France, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Croatia. It was chosen because “The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food.”
I am presenting a talk at the OpenMED conference in Torino on Friday. I have been struggling a bit with the talk and, for that matter, open as a concept more generally.¹ But Martin Weller’s recent posts about a Mixed Tools Diet and Rewilding Edtech reminded me that using ridiculous metaphors to explain edtech is a time-honored tradition of the ragtag, online incarnation of the field known as edtech. And we need to savor that tradition lest edtech become an actual discipline (#resist!).
Anyway, the idea is to try and take some concepts basic to the Mediterranean diet and map them onto some fundamental elements of healthy open edtech in order to communicate some values of the field. So here it goes:
In many ways the signature feature of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. So, what would Olive Oil be in terms of Open EdTech? Olive oil is ubiquitous in the Mediterranean diet as a kind of basic infrastructure that cuts across all plates. You put olive oil on mozzarella, tomatoes, pasta, pizza, salads, etc. It’s omnipresent, and it not only makes the food taste better, but its healthier. Making the leap of faith then, the undergirding ingredient of open edtech is first and foremost the open web. The basic protocols, markup languages and scripting tools that define the World Wide Web are the Extra Virgin Olive Oil of edtech that lubricates sharing by removing the artery-clogging principles of a traditional means of publishing by enabling us to seamlessly navigate and share within a de-centralized, distributed infrastructure of information.
So, we can understand Olive Oil as the open web, the fundamental ingredient which any idea of openness in educational technology is built upon. Now we have other essential elements such as vegetables, fresh fruits, cereals, nuts and legumes. These are the elements that underscore the light nature of this diet. This is designed to limit the amount of saturated fats, which might be understood as independent sites like Wikipedia as a vegetable garden of knowledge, creative commons as the fresh fruit, blogs as the nuts, and beans as the open source substitutes for high protein, fatty learning management systems (LMS). This may need some more work, but you get my drift. I have four days, so all recommendations welcome 🙂
Speaking of saturated fats, it is not expected that you avoid the LMS all together. In fact, we understand they can be useful, but as with most fast food it often defaults towards shutting down and templating content—so be wary. Less than 8% of your OpenEd diet should be LMS-related.
Jun Seita’s “Five Guys Coming to Bay Area”
The same is true for social media, while Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and the like can be fast and convenient, diets are never about easy or pleasurable. In fact, look at what has happened when we let Facebook go 🙂 A rigorous diet of creating and maintaining your own resources online on your own space is essential to a new digital you. Resist the siren song of the quick fix dietary advice of social media conglomerates, and setup your own blog and start building your course and disciplinary resources through a leafier, greener web.
Anyway, that’s all I have so far and I’ll be working on it over the next couple of days before I head to Torino, so any and all fun-loving recommendations are welcome. I’m sure some of you people who actually know something about health and diets could help me out here. I mean, I’m sure there are some fringe dietary facts I could use, I’m still figuring out how Domains and ds106 fits in. Maybe this is one of those analogies that is better abandoned then seen through for obvious reasons … such as this post.
- The 5 minute videos Downes has been creating for the Introduction to OpenEd MOOC Siemens and Wiley are running have been quite helpful for me. I particularly agree with his assessment of OpenEd as a series of personal relations rather than licenses and stuff, but he does a nice job of abstracting the vision of what connected networks mean. The videos nicely encapsulate Downes ideas about networks, open, and learning in quickly, accessible, and human bits. Downes is a machine.