Monthly Archives: October 2017

Reflection #3

Open learning – Sharing and openness

What does open truly mean? What does it mean to share? These questions and their varied answers have guided me for a longer time. I recently argued that “[compared to closeness] openness is a much more fruitful way–it is simply more likely to create better ideas by bringing different viewpoints together”. The idea is the same as with a wall and a ball. If we throw the ball to the wall it comes back in different angles and speed, depending on how we throw it. Similar happens nicely with ideas: we can throw ideas to other people, and the ideas come back in surprising angles.

Openness means in the project I am a project manager for to openly, and in fast cycles share what we are engaged with: events, pilots, and related news. We wish with this that these resonate with the outer world, both within the university and elsewhere, and we will hear back interesting new ideas, more or less built on what we have shared.

It has been fascinating to evidence that in open networked learning openness happens also in a multitude of ways. The ranges are indeed amazing: from assignments to these blog posts, from webinars to shared online work spaces, and from online presentation to video sharing tools.

However, and interestingly, it is in fact not always good to have *everything* shared openly. I am convinced that it is useful to have a closed workspace for the small problem-driven group of learners, and when they feel the result is ready to be shared to a wider public, then go for total openness. This supports the feeling of trust within the small group to let even very early ideas flow.

Even for this blog I now write I do not publish a half-baked version, but the version I have read a few times and improved when needed. In open networked learning we have this kind of a setting of combined openness (for wider sharing) and closeness (for work spaces). Tweet chat can bear more draft-like thoughts – in the end educated drafts will anyway be quite good contents compared to the amazing spectrum of tweets that we nowadays can evidence.

Licences are interesting: if some content does not have any license attached to it, it is really not a good idea to make use of that content. In contrary if Creative Commons (or other like the MIT License) are in use, then the rules for building one’s own work on licensed contents are more clear.  CC Search is a good example for finding contents that meet the criteria I have set for different uses.

Though I have to say that as a visual media / information visualisation / photography / media tech- expert I almost always prefer to make use of photos or visuals I have myself made or made together with my teams. However, I obviously realise that more we communicate visually (and audio-visually), more tempting it is to check if someone has already taken that photo (let us say a lady with mobile phone walking at a beach) that you would like to make use of in your presentation.

Thanks for reading! Happy to hear your comments 🙂

ps. word-cloud-open

Tomi Kauppinen reflects and analyses open networked learning. You can follow him on Twitter: @LinkedScience or TomiKauppinen.

Reflection #2

Online participation and digital literacies

I am fascinated about the mystery of participation. What draws people to participate
in events and communities? How do we create a match between offered activities and what
people are interested in, or would like to learn. Can we understand how participation works? Recently we studied ourselves a large amount of participation in conferences over time, and found a “law of participation” [1]. This new participation law essential says that more you participate, more likely you will participate in the future that same conference. See figure below for an illustration of the associate nature of conference participation:


Storytelling via an example to illustrate the associative nature of conference participation

But now what is the role of learning in participation? Examples range from learning for hobbies (think of examples like tennis, squash, yoga, swimming, reading or movies) or for formal education (ranging from certificates provided by businesses to academic degrees and beyond to courses like open networked learning). Surely motivations for people to participate are multitude, where expected results can be meeting new and old people, keeping one fit, getting experiences, learning skills, or essentially getting a job. Further on, these are accompanied with expectations from the  society and parents of a learner, all together forming a rich network weaved with decisions and simple luck to determine how people participate. From my experiences within open networked learning, the start has indeed been crucial in getting to know each other – and most essentially to get the feeling of belonging to our PBL group seven.

When it comes to online participation there are many things missing that we intuitively, and with evidence, know to draw people together. An event with good food and servings is surely able to better draw people to listen to talks compared to a seminar without them. How do we ensure to have good servings online to draw people to participate? Once I spent six months out of my home town and university, and agreed to meet with my colleagues once per week online when they had lunch – and when I had my brown bag – to continue our nice tradition of international Friday lunches. This was surely a way to ensure participation online.

Now reflecting my experiences within open networked learning I realise that the concept of meetings with servings can really be transferred to online settings, but best when
realizing that all online activities anyway happen in some place & time.

Naturally digital literacy plays a crucial role here. When people can easily enough move from physical settings to online settings, by having different backup plans in place (for instance having many different tools available for online communication), communication
online can start being as efficient as communication in our physical world. Now how to support teachers and learners to improve their digital literacy? I argue that this happens via building a community in which it is fully allowed and well supported to explore and test different tools, and where ideas and practices are shared via workshop-style sessions for relevant themes, ranging all the way from augmented reality to online textbooks, and from video production to generic blended learning settings [2].

Last but not least: what if we would take all words of this reflection, and make a simple word cloud visualisation. How would it look like? What words are most prominently there? Well, let us look at the result: clearly words like participation, online, learning and people but also communication, together, experiences, time and many others. In digital world we can help literacy to happen by providing overviews of information, and in different ways filter, organise and compare information to be easier to interpret.


Tomi Kauppinen reflects and analyses open networked learning. You can follow him on Twitter: @LinkedScience or TomiKauppinen.

[1] Jelena Smiljanić, Arnab Chatterjee, Tomi Kauppinen, Marija Mitrović Dankulov (2016). A Theoretical Model for the Associative Nature of Conference Participation. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148528. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148528.
[2] Tomi Kauppinen and Lauri Malmi. Aalto Online Learning – a pathway to reforming education at the Aalto University. In Proceedings of EUNIS 2017 – Shaping the future of universities, 2017.