“One black South African scholar said to me, “we thought America was fixed!” I took away that none of us is “fixed” but that many of us, across contexts, are trying.” and this is a common situation across geographies…and what is really “fixed”? what does it mean?


The International Conference on Open and Distance Education was hosted by the University of South Africa this month. Paul Prinsloo put together a truly remarkable set of keynote addresses and invited me to present the opening keynote. I have more than a few reflections, many of which are probably beyond the scope of a post but here we go.

Tressie McMIllan Cottom, Opening Keynote, ICDE UNISA 2015, South Africa Tressie McMIllan Cottom, Opening Keynote, ICDE UNISA 2015, South Africa

First, let me tell you something. You know how folks seem physically incapable of hosting an event that has any women or non-white people in positions of expertise? Paul and the ICDE organizing committee at UNISA made it look easy.

Not only were the majority of the keynotes women but they hailed from within and beyond the academy, at all academic ranks, from a diversity of viewpoints and disciplines, and came from around the world. And this wasn’t a “diversity” panel or…

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Interdisciplinarity is a an important construct in terms of advancing research and knowledge. Working with multidisciplinary teams allows for a sharing of expertise in a natural and meaningful way, but do we always do this in our teaching?

Do our universities allow for genuinely innovative interdisciplinary learning, and to what extent are our teaching practices putting our students into the same silos that we are hemmed into ourselves as teachers and learners? This Tweetchat aims to raise some of these issues, and by the very nature of the community will itself be a smorgasbord of interdisciplinarity.

If you are reflecting on this specific #LTHEchat in your blog or anywhere in social media please share your post with us so that we can reblog.

If you participated/are participating in any way in the #LTHEchat, please complete our short survey and let us know if you have other suggestions on how we could…

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Picture : CC BY Russell Watkins/Department for International Development  https://goo.gl/UdN1CU

Yesterday, I came across a post that raised the question whether sensitive content, such as about refugees, should be made available under a open license as it could be intentionally distorted.

This is a topic that deserves to be discussed among all of us!

Although, under CC BY licences, the authors are allowing for the economic rights, of sharing and remixing, but not really the moral rights, as well as privacy, as stated in the CC license “For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.” which means that those remixing the material, can not say anything opposite to the author’s purpose and message, otherwise they will be infringing the author’s moral rights! https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The works (as considered in IPR) addressing refugees need to take always into consideration privacy issues (as some of them are being persecuted or their families) and do no harm principle. It is fundamental to ask  to the persons being photographed, filmed, named whether they expressly authorize for this information to be published.

Having said this, in my opinion,  it is relevant that these works are made available under open licenses to be shared and raise awareness.

I would like to hear  what are the colleagues thoughts on this.



ONL152, starting September 22nd. Registration will open in the middle of August.

Open Networked learning

Dear friends,

For Scandinavians, summer is very special due to the very uneven distribution of daylight and temperature during the four seasons. This time of year, the northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland have midnight sun – and during winter there will be a period when the sun never manages to rise above the horizon! Denmark and the southernmost part of Sweden have long days (in Lund today the sun rose at 4:29 am and will set at 9:53 pm) whereas in the winter the days are but a few hours long. These last few days, the temperature finally seems to have changed into summer mode (today max 28° and lowest night temperature estimated to 16°).

The ONL course and the course team are resting comfortably in hammocks or elsewhere and hope you are too! We will be back this autumn with another iteration of the ONL course, ONL152

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Memory tends to be short! and this is a case (a person) not be left to enter into oblivion! Aaron prosecution was a typical case of fear and ignorance with terrible consequences and huge loss…to all of us!

Unhandled Exception

I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person’s entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron’s family during what must be the hardest time of their lives.

If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no…

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Beautiful images to build resilience and hope in Syrian children

Lina Safar

Syria’s civil war and resulting refugee crisis are poised to become the worst humanitarian disaster of our time.

The truth is: millions of Syrians need our help. And the more aware people are of what is going on, the more we can rally a global effort to assist those in need.

According to the UN, more than half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Most have been out of school for months, if not years. The youngest are confused and scared by their experiences, lacking the sense of safety and home they need. The older children are forced to grow up too fast, finding work and taking care of their family in desperate circumstances.Photo by muzaffar salman

Photo by Muzaffar Salman.

The UN estimates that over 4 million people are internally displaced and that almost 7 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. When you also…

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The start of ONL community of practice and the implications to different knowledge areas

Interesting reflections from a colleague in #ONL151 about Learning Environments


Listening to the overwhelming amounts of new information on this topic this week, I have got the impression that learning environments are the key to effective learning. However, is that really true and what does learning environment mean? I grew up believing in that a clear structure in education was necessary for acquiring knowledge, and constant feedback on the things learners do wrong would help them develop. Listening to the surprising presentation of Sugata Mitra, it seems that learning might also be a self-organizing phenomenon, which emerges when collaboration and encouragement meets with an online environment, providing access to knowledge. (https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud?language=en). This idea is in agreement with other studies emphasizing that an effective learning environment fosters collaboration and provides encouragement to learners (Conole, G. 2015). The 7C framework learning design has been suggested to provide a handle on each phase of online course development with the aim of facilitating student engagement…

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How passion can lead to Open Education!

malin christersson


I have participated in a number of MOOCs, all related to computer science. According to the talk MOOCs – from hype to opportunity by Alastair Creelman, I’m a typical MOOC student: I’m middle-aged; I’m not looking to get any credit for taking a course since I graduated a long time ago; although I’m interested in the subject of each MOOC my main interest is to study the MOOC itself; I have dropped out from every MOOC and I don’t think of this as a failure since finishing a course is not one of my objectives. My MOOC experiences have made me mildly interested in the MOOC phenomenon but not enthusiastic. The Online Networked Learning course on the other hand has made me enthusiastic by showing alternative formats for open online learning. I’m interested in giving an online-based course for mathematics teachers but I’m not interested in the letter M…

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Learning & Teaching News

Dear colleagues,

Patrick Baughan, Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at the Department of Learning Enhancement and Development at City University London will lead TLC webinar on Tuesday the 26th of May, 12-1pm GMT* during which we will discuss Sustainability in higher education.

Information: The purpose of this webinar is to discuss an empirical study in which I invited university staff employed in the field of educational development to provide their views about sustainability in higher education. The aims of the study were to: (a) seek educational developer views about whether sustainability (particularly sustainability in the curriculum) could form a more central part of their own work; (b) invite comment about the current Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Sustainable development in higher education policy. The study seeks to offer some rich data from the ‘educational developer voice’ about sustainability, which could be useful for informing future…

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