Open Architecture, a Vision Beyond the Massive Hype

Giulia Forsythe’s “The MOOC, the movie!”

When Instructure hired Jared Stein a year ago my faith in them multiplied exponentially. Jared is as smart a person as I’ve met working in this space, and he not only understands the field of edtech intimately, but he can also present his ideas creatively with the best of them. He’s worked, taught, and generally lived the field for more than a decade and his deep understanding of the limits and possibilities of online learning spaces (hell, he coined the term creepy treehouse with Chris Lott) always makes his ideas of particular interest to me. What’s more, the fact that he is spearheaded this space for discourse about ideas beyond the focused marketing speak of a single company suggests there are still a few companies out there who are willing to invest in good, thoughtful people like Jared.

So, when he asked me to inaugurate a new blogging project he’s working on for Instructure I jumped at the chance. Not only am I honored to be kicking it off, but it gave me the opportunity to try and work through some of the ideas swirling around my head right now. The web has been abuzz with Massive Open Online Courses for the last five or six months, and the hoopla has pushed me to try and focus back in on the vision that I’ve always felt closest to. Namely, framing and designing an open experience that enables students and faculty to control the work they do online. And while I see this as very much at the heart of the work  George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Comier have been doing with MOOCs since 2008, there can be little doubt the term got hijacked. As Lisa M. Lane noted in a comment on a recent Google+ discussion: “I’m thinking we should go back to ‘online classes’ and leave the term MOOC to the institutions that have co-opted it.” Believe me, I know the feeling of having your ideas co-opted, just not on this scale 🙂 So in response to Jared’s request I turned my ideas into a post that in many ways tries to remain true to the spirit of the distributed, individualized ownership of ideas online while re-focusing the discussion to how we manage and distribute them not as massive courses, because the massive qualifier here commodifies the whole endeavor, but as a networked experience between and amongst courses, schools, institutions, and most importantly people. I’m not sure how successful I am at communicating any of this in the post, but for me the return to an open architecture wherein we can freely share and build on each other’s work in innovative ways seems the best antidote to the all the hype. A Domain of One’s Own #4life 🙂

So, if you made it this far without leaving you should really just go an read the post on Instructure’s Keep Learning blog.

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