Blogfesores 2009: “Sharing is the Nature of Creation”

Mario Accepting a well-deservd award for being the OG Blogfesor
Image credit: Grisrodrig’s “Mario Nuñez and Cristina Pomales”

It seems like I was at Blogfesores 2009 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico two months ago, but it has only been a little over a week. I guess that what’s happen when you return to find UMW’s 14th Faculty Academy in full swing. So not until now have I had a free minute to site down and get some thoughts down about my experience at the University of Mayaguez. Going there was a particular treat for me because I finally got to meet Mario Núñez (or the DigiZen himself) who in many ways I consider a fellow traveler and inspiration.

Mario has been the impetus behind the establishment of the Blogfesores Congress, which is a large group of faculty/librarians at the University of Mayaguez who are experimenting with an impressive range of open source and open access online tools for teaching and learning. There were presentations on everything from WPMu to Joomla to Oh My News (an online newspaper in Seoul, Korea that is almost entirely fueled by citizen journalism) to the Open Journal Systems. It was a pretty amazing range of discussions, and it was touching to see how much the Mayaguez community looks to Mario for both inspiration and a kind of reserved and pensive poetry for imagining the possibilities. He, look all the good folks thinking about edtech right now, works through poetry—and I can only see and hear that while being there and foraging around for translations and context.

Beyond catching up with Mario, I was also able to re-connect with professor Antonio Vantaggiato who is working diligently to bring this conversation to the Sciences at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón—a recent Symposium he put together featuring Michael Wesch is an excellent example of this.

But, as seems to be the case with any university or college where there stuff is happening, there is no one or two people to turn to, there are so many I couldn’t begin to list them all here. I met an amazing amount of people, I was particularly impressed with the library contingent at Mayaguez, including Grisell Rodriguez and Jaqui Alvarez, the latter of whom I had the pleasure of spending a good amount of time talking to about a wide range of projects, issues, and the larger culture of the university—I wouldn’t leave her alone 🙂

Prisma Digital (Radamés Toro) was also a twittering and blogging force that I am still beholding, and it was folks like this that represented the lion share of the conference attendees. I was particularly impressed with the forum at the end of the day, which basically opened up discussion around the theme of the conference (which was open access) to all the participants for an impromptu conversation and discussion. I was really impressed by the way the community was not simply cheerleading the charge, but asking the very particular questions and outlining the specifics challenges for a campus like Mayaguez that is predominantly a science, and even more specifically an engineering, school.

That said, I was more than a little self-conscious given my Spanish is non-existent, but I was fortunate that everyone was far too polite in forgiving my ignorance. I presented what I thought was a pretty fun talk about how the “Revolution will be Syndicated.” A theme for which I depended heavily on video for the first 10 to 15 minutes, which is a style I really like if I can make it a little smoother and less “blocky.” (I would love to be able to seamlessly integrate video clips into a presentation as I am walking around and talking like others do with slides. A kind of re-mixed commentary on the commentary through film clips would be awesome, something to shoot for.) But in the mean time I just basically discussed what a syndication platform might mean for open access, and how UMW Blogs has enabled our institution to “back into openness” through a form of experimentation and praxis, rather than any over-arching, universal theory of what open is or what it must be. We discovered the power of open access for ourselves through a kind of community exploration and discovery, rather than an administrative mandate or some kind of plastic public relations maneuver. Here is the video of the talk if you are interested, if nothing else the videos within the video are good 🙂

My only regret is that I didn’t get to see much of Puerto Rico at all, it was far too quick. On the drive back to the airport Saturday morning I realized this thanks to some stunning vistas, and I was truly bummed that I wasn’t able to separate from my work for long enough to enjoy a good body surf or two because the island is absolutely magnificent.

This entry was posted in presentations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blogfesores 2009: “Sharing is the Nature of Creation”

  1. Hi James:

    Thanks a lot for mentioning my and my blog on your post. It’s a honor to read my name in your blog and it was and honor to know you. Educators inmerse in the technology and using tools already available for free in the web is what all this is about. I hope we can shake hands again in future events.

    From Puerto Rico,

    Radamés
    Prisma Digital

  2. nycrican2 says:

    Just watched your video. Interesting topic and awesome examples of open student sharing and the syndication revolution. I especially found the Wikipedia project very inspiring.

    Thanks so much for posting your presentation online. Just love Puerto Rico and wish I could have attended this conference.

    P.S. I also just subscribed to Serena Epstein’s blog.

  3. Reverend says:

    Radamés,

    You use the term “honor” far too liberally, I was there simply because I yell louder than the people who are really doing the hard work. But, as usual, that becomes apparent at events like blogfesores, particularly the forum, when everyone can voice their questions, issues, and ideas. That to me is the vibrant backbone of this space, and I have been struggling with the idea of identity in this space. Because I’d hate to see it go the way of the micro-celebrity and see the very idea of community that has been emerging online be shattered by the potential for visibility and acclaim for a few. That’s what’s crazy about this space, we’re all doing it, it’s not particular or specific to anyone person, and no idea is solely born of the one great thinker in edtech, it is a distributed space where the ideas are being freely shared and built on, no one should be excluded if they act in good faith, what ever that means. And I certainly don’t always act in good faith because like everyone, we’re just people and we are flawed. Progress is a myth. But the act of coming together and thinking about this stuff is what makes all the uncertainties and failures tolerable, so thank you.

    @nycrican2,
    Yeah, Puerto Rico is beautiful, and the people there were extremely warm and generous with this gringo. I also love the Wikipedia example, and I think that stands, at least for me, as one of the best testaments to using the free and open space of the web to build on collective knowledge and illustrate that knowledge formation is a public and open struggle over ideas. Wikipedia exemplifies this like no other tool can, and what Jon Beasley-Murray did with it is nothing short of amazing. Issue is, so few professors have followed his important lead.

    Glad you followed Serena, she will not disappoint, and thanks for the comment—it was nice connecting with you more closely through my Puerto Rico trip, if only by Twitter and the blog 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *