Manifesto for Free Learning

  We are creating an open manifesto that can be rewritten and developed by everyone interested in free learning.  Do not be afraid to jump in and edit, or to contest or further discuss the claims and ideas.  However, please try to leave the manifesto in a coherent state, and do discussions elsewhere, for example, in the discussion page.

1. Among many visions for educational practice, we have chosen to use digital technologies to learn in a collaborative, free, and open way.  We seek to empower ourselves and others to learn in self-organizing online communities, (and in offline or hybrid communities that follow similar practices.)

2. We reject the notion that a good education must be bought and sold. Many of the world's educational resources are still locked up behind restrictive admissions barriers and high price tags, even on the Internet. We make an explicit distinction between the goals of a market-driven educational system and the goals of self-motivated learners.  We advocate open online spaces as an alternative to the increasing commercialization and corporatization of educational institutions around the world. 

3. We believe that all may be teachers, just as all may be learners, and we claim the right to accredit ourselves and each other as we pursue our own educational goals and objectives. We need no external authority to decide what we should and shouldn't learn.  Our choices are our own, rooted in curiosity, experience, and a desire for building our  knowledge and personal effectiveness.

4. We view the world's cultural heritage as a dynamic space, neither controlled by institutions (universities, museums, corporations), nor entirely outside of their control.  However, certification has traditionally been the dominion of institutionalized higher education. We assert that knowledge building in ad hoc, nontraditional, and mediated or virtual spaces can be as good or better than knowledge building in traditional institutions. Our agenda is not to stratify but to empower. We wish not simply to expand access to old knowledge, but to build new and timely resources and practices. 

5. We recognize that capacities for working creatively with knowledge is one of the most important issues in global development, and that it can be used for "good" or "bad". We do not dictate the terms of use...

6. While we cannot always use free software and freely licensed learning materials, it is expressly our desire to contribute our work to the Free World and to expand the scope of the public domain whenever and wherever possible.  We support of the copyright reform agendas pursued by the Pirate Parties worldwide.  We recognize that access is only the beginning to empowerment, and we will seek to learn from, support, and expand the knowledge building activities and techniques of our friends the hackers and pirates.

7. To this end, we are dedicating our study of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning to developing techniques for creating and maintaining of a self-sustaining learning community and networks devoted to exploring innovative models of free and open education, and enacting these models through high quality participatory courses, study groups, and new forms of collaboration.  

We announce our intentions and methods so that others may follow and claim their own right to learning.
Signed in June, 2011 by...

Let's meet here instead, since it seems more stable than PiratePad.

CSCL intro will meet here in week 7, Saturday at 5PM EST.

Some great notes, questions by Nate Otto:

copy of chat from piratpad:
Nate: Will there be any audio component to this chat?
4:42Sandy: Hi, Nate... there could be audio. What do you use for audio?
4:42Sandy: Hey, Stian!
4:43Stian: It's still pitch dark in the Chinese village :) I am really glad we have electricity though, it was out all yesterday so I was worried.
4:43Sandy: Electricity can be good!
4:44Sandy: It's beautiful and sunny here. Cool, but we've had so much rain lately...
4:45Stian: Given your interest in MOOCs and other open courses, feel free to also discuss the course with students - if you want to discuss with them their experience with this course etc (given that we're headed towards the end), as well as discussing your article and experience with Nunavut. We spent quite a lot of time on Scardamalia etc early in the course, so they should all be familiar with that.
4:47Sandy: Hmm... lost my connection.
4:49Sandy: Back.
4:49Stian: Piratepad seems very moody today! :( Maybe we should switch to
4:49Sandy: You tell me what to do and I'll do it.
4:50Sandy: Was the video OK? It was shorter than I expected (and took longer!).
4:52Stian: Here are some notes by one of our students:
4:53Stian: I am just watching the video, since I couldn't get online all yesterday
4:54Stian: Hi Jennifer!
4:55Stian: Too bad IRRODL doesn't allow comments - it would have been great to link this video to your article there.
4:58Sandy: Good questions at ottonomy...


Nate: I wonder about the different effects of using knowledge building (and Knowledge Forum) with graduate students as opposed to k-12 (with whom McAuley did his initial knowledge building research?) I found KF easier to use in manuy ways with the MEd group because we didn't have to fight against the structure of the school system. (That's an interesting component I hadn't thought about. There are so many layers you have to fight through to implement something like KF in a institutional structure with so much tradition built up around it already) Yes, and in the MEd we had control of what we wanted to use and why. I think KF's principled approach gave us some depth to work with. 
Do you know if any of the grads want to implement KF in their practice? 

Marcy:  @Sandy: So what, in your view, would be the most  "transferable"  components of your Nunavut approach to other  settings--say, for  professionals who are all over the geographic place,  yet face profound  challenges in comprehending their world and how they  should perform in  it?
 We've tried this with professionals with fairly dismal results (some groups at OISE have done better). The transferable thing is the need to take an iterative process over time, I think. It wouldn't have worked as well with one course, for example.Thanks. This is the challenge: how to apply some of these principles to professional development, a subset of lifelong learning.  And, I think some professions lend themselves better to this, than others. 

Monica: @Sandy: I was wondering what KB principles were more naturally or organically taken up, if any Hmm... I'm having an easier time thinking of the ones that seemed more challenging. For example, there was more of an emphasis on individual learning than collective improvement of ideas. Probably a factor of students' many competing priorities. 
Does this not seem to be the case quite often? I'm just thinking of some databases I've seen where there's tons of ideas but little refinement and progression. (Of course I"m only seeing the online component of the work, so it's pretty skewed) No this is a fair question. I suspect that if I did a real in-depth analysis, I'd see very little extensive KB. 

 Design of the course:
 Joe: fewer topics? and more in-depth. more Knowledge Building approach, and also contributing more of our knowledge to  In our case, we were hamstrung by our own course-based program structure. We've built a greater use of Indigenous methodologies, current relevant media, and better grounding in students' experiences in this round.
Neat.  I wonder if there's a specific technology or workflow that would be sharable/reproducible from that experience for other courses (like this one or other P2PU courses). I'm scared we're mostly in a "scramble" mode! It's not a conventional instructional design approach, and it builds a lot on student/instructor dialogue.
Maybe more "agile" though.  -  Sounds good!

Question about openness and privacy - whether more transparent environments would help the students continue the community after the course - and whether they would accept more transparency.  I think it might. I've been arguing for a "publish" function in KF that would post a view or collection of views to the net for wider collaboration.
Doesn't it kind of have that? Although you can't publish the graphical interface, just the text interface. Not as far as I know... but there was some talk that much of that work had been done, so maybe it's got out in the wild.
I'm pretty sure there is actually. But to me the graphical itnerface is really key, so it's not that valuable. Monica has high hopes for the new web based KF, apparently they are demonstrating it in HK. 

Did all participants in Nunavut MEd take all the same classes at the same time as each other? I wonder how well the Knowledge Forum database would function with a larger cohort too big for everybody to be taking the same things at once, perhaps with more specialization.
Yeah the question of big cohorts - like large undergraduate classrooms, has been raised several times in this course - seems like Scardamalia etc kind of just "assumes" nice small seminar classes? We had a cohort model so many people did take courses at the same time. However, we used KF to help support make-up courses for small numbers of students who may have missed a course.
Oh, that must have been good for them. They don't have to build all that knowledge by themselves.. and since the database is all still active, people who finished it already will still be able to participate in those questions, providing they have enough time and effort to spare.
That's interesting.. I am always interested in how people interact with already created community content - like if we ran another intro to CSCL and they had access to everything we wrote, would it really help their learning, or do they need to make all those connections themselves... 

Haha, this is the most cognitive overload I've ever had! :) But instead of feeling drowned, maybe just revel in it, and accept that you can't read everything! :) lol thanks - ya I was just watching this pad expand like som- those spongey things I used to play with as a kid - nvmd.
Drinking from the firehose :)Yep. Cool! Like fireflies...

Another advantage of using this space is that we can actually replay the whole conversation, which we can't with the chat yet (hope some Etherpad hacker adds that)

Stian: Joe: One thing Monica and I discussed was that this is actually a great tlak to have during the final weke - I think it's nice to during the course focus on just reading, discussing and genearting as much as possible - not worrying too much about format. THen in the final week, we can go through, look at what we have, and how we can contribute it to wikis, edit a document together etc. But we need teh _STUFF_ first... Is it possible to extend the finish date of the course for another two or three weeks? Not to introduce new stuff but to give everyone a chance to go over the stuff we missed and fill in the gaps?
Well, the course is not going away at all - the material will be at P2PU, and on your blogs etc, for ever... And I will keep working on CSCL for the next four years for my PhD, and for the rest of my life(?) after that - so I'll "be around" :) But I personally wonder if it wouldn't make sense for us to formally close it within the nromal time - becuase I'd rather have us all hold hands and say thanks for a wonderful experience, then have the thing drag on and slowly peter out... but we can have an awesome "post-party" lasting as long as people want :) (this is just my idea)
OK - Cool. I get it. But if I write a blog post, for example, how can I let the group know? Can I still send an "email" to the group through P2Pu?
Good point. Well, I won't close down the course, so I assume it would just stay around. And we can also think about what's the best medium to link us together for the longer term - whether it's the twitter hashtag, or p2pu or a mailing list or the netvibes page . 
One easy solution would be to have a googlegroup mailing list. 
I'm not so sure about that but maybe we can discuss later!

@Sandy: On the same topic of KF, how do you think KF supports transformational learning more than other LMS? Is it really the LMS that supports KB? Or is it the way the course has been structured? I mean, can't we build knowledge using any platform?  I'm hugely biased about this. I think the intersection of tools and pedagogies is critical. For example, in a MOOC I participated in about a year ago, I found myself fighting with the tools to do stuff that comes quite easily in KF. Then again, I was less familiar with those tools. There is a literature on the cultural underpinnings of computing and the embedded values. 
@Thanks Sandy but is it really impossible to build knowledge in some LMS?
I can see how the affordances of some LMS might make it easier or more difficult to collaborate but where there's a will there's a way, no? Or is KB really dependent on the LMS? I think it's possible that any number of tools might support KB. A couple of people at Portsmouth—Terry King and Emma Bull, I think—have started a framework to correlate Web 2.0 tools with KB principles. I think this is a very exciting initiative. Wow sounds very interesting, will have to look into it, thanks Sandy That's awesome I would love to see that ...
I remember reading an early article about that - are they continuing that work? Then I need to connect with them! article link?? Yes, i'd love to see that, too. The apps keep getting developed...
Duke-Williams, E. and King, T. (2008). Grazing or Digesting? Preparing University Students for the Information Economy, IPPC 2008, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, July That's it! Emma Bull is an sf writer! sf?cool  Science Fiction, not Simon Frasier ha ha yall hey! for US-based people, San Francisco, or maybe Santa Fe...?    Over here it'd be Sinn Fein...LOL! I'm well familiar with them...

direct download:
I found that a while ago, and was very excited about it but didn't know if they had done more work on it.
This is EXACTLY what I intended to talk to Marlene about ...  Monica, are you one of Marlene's students? Yes... and i JUST handed in my comps only to come to the realization (or perhaps finally acknowledge) I need to change my basic framework/orientation. Sweet. LOL Monica at least you didn't get halfway thru your research and then find out true... it still hurts a bit ... ugh

(One specific question about KF: did the MEd students use the built in scaffolds a lot?) Yes, I wondered that too (me too!). And also, what were the scaffolds (I guess they were the built in ones...) But I'm not too familiar with KF, so I wondered what the scaffolds were. 
Here are the Built-in scaffolds in Knowledge Forum:
"My theory is","I need to understand", "new information", "this theory cannot explain", "a better theory", "putting our knowledge together"-- there's a screenshot in the pdfvideo at 9:16 that shows them. Great question! I would say that the students used scaffolds in predominantly superficial ways. I think that's partly because we didn't stress them enough. We did structure new scaffolds for various purposes because (another) one of our goals was to support the improvement of academic writing skills. Do you think they would've taken to writing their own scaffolds? Or would that not have been a big priority? It wasn't a priority with us, but I have wondered about it. My thought is that the students would not have been particularly interested in getting that far into the KF toolset. Sad, as it illustrates a certain lack of agency.

Monica and I were discussing scaffolds as one example 0 it would be neat (and easy) to write a little WordPress plugin that just offered you a scaffold when blogging. Would be interesting to see how that changed a course based on students blogging. 
One thing I got from the articles about scaffolds we read in this course (Puntambekar) is that scaffolds are supposed to be temporary and then "fade away" -- do you think of them as that? Or more as permanent "cognitive tools"? I keep thinking that 'fading' can also be looked at as using them in a different way... like they don't necc have to be 'sentence openers' but can help to tag or identify different dialogue acts or moves... this of course would only be useful if the tagging action would be tied to something like an assessment tool or meter, etc. I think they should definitely fade away. That's the main purpose of them, a la Vygotsky and the ZPD... oops, just read below! 
that's neat. i just found that the way puntambekar described scaffolds was very differetn from how Scardamalia describes them - it was a really useful persepctive for me. also interesting to see where they came from, education for learning disabled kids, the link between scaffolds and ZPD, the idea of adaptability - link to learner models

@Sandy: Is there a distinction, in your work, betwee "Knowledge Building" and "Knowledge Generating"? That is, the former helping a student acquire 'received knowledge or wisdom'; the latter involving the generation of NEW knowledge--e.g., different ideas mashed together that are more relevant to a changing world with heightened expectations.  I see KB as a more encompassing process which involves generating and extending and improving ideas; KG is just one part of that larger process. I don't see KB as supporting the acquisition of received knowledge or wisdom. That would be a gloss on Freire's banking model, and antithetical to KB. It doesn't mean you don't get convergent thinking with received wisdom, though.Okay, I see. I'm thinking again of the challenge to professional development--say a bunch of corporate attorneys who have been trained in certain ways -- the canon, if you will -- and now find themselves in a whole new environment, demanding very different understandings and responsiblities having to do with sustainability and human rights.  How would these tools and theories be used in co-constructing blended learning environments that help deepen understanding and improve performance, whilst charting new ground?  Another learning universe: members of boards of directors... To me, this starts to sound like one of the questions that originally got me interested in KB/KF, specifically the notion that we should start with people's own questions and build out from there. YES!!
So, the professionals need to be able to identify the significant problems for them in their own field. I really love this way of working - but I think it makes it so challenging for teachers. There needs to be teacher support to help them see what the emerging big ideas are. Also practical resources - if the students are interested in something very specific, and that emerges from a class, that is so hard to plan for. It's almost like you have to anticipate what the forms of inquiry will be. This is why ICS has their KB meetings - the teachers always present what is going on in the course, where things may be headed, what to do if they do go a certain way - they are all very supportive and helpful with each other and I thnk that's why it works so well there. One of our next research steps may be working much more closely with a teacher there to document how emergent knowledge - well, emerges from their KB work. And be willing to work together to advance that frontier of knowledge, in ways that enable genralization and adaptation to the particularities of their circumstance...This, to me, is a huge untapped area: Peer to Peer Professional Practice (too many Ps! :) Good points. One of the challenges, I think, is moving from individual conceptions of knowledge and value as determined by scarcity and collective knowledge in which value is created by usability, novelty, innovation. Yes, absolutely: and in recognition that what' working now, or relevant now, or usable now, may be yesterday's news in a couple of years. Again, the mounting concern about climate change and sustainability, as well as this coming week's ratificaiton by the UN's Human Rights Council of the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, create a new operating environment that literally affect the working assumptions of thousands of professionals. Suddenly, they're "behind the times".

I totally agree. One of the things for me that is really frustrating is that people deep in KB and other stuff, don't see the connection to their own professional communities Yes, this is mind boggling to me, as you've mentioned it before...An absence of self-accountability - for example how all KB researchers interact with each others electronically, and at meetings, workshops, etc.
(PS: I was really happy to see GroupScribbles, which i've been blogging about this week - explicitly reference post-its and conference practices... The first link I've seen between CSCL and innovative face-to-face workshop methods - Stian this is sort of what I was thinking re: the links between activities like "Four Corners" and some of the representational guidance stuff)

I was just reading "How people learn" by National Academy of Science (2000), (Great book! It deserves wider distribution) and they focus a lot on, and explain very well, constructivism as an epistemology (as opposed to a pedagogy), and the importance of eliciting prior ideas, conceptual change etc. I think this is a powerful explanation for why Knowledge Building approaches lead to much deeper learning than traditional trasnfer models.
(yes, and they just made all of their books OA!) - I agree... Although it was a bit fluffed up. I felt like they took the maxim "Say what you are going to say, then say it, then say what you've just said" a little bit too far :) Could have been reduced by 40%... but very clear explanation of key findings. thanks for the ref, this looks useful    PS now have 401 books in shopping cart at amazon

Synchronous meetings
It's interesting that we've basically "created" a multi-threaded chat client here! Refers to both Suthers' point that in online settings people appropriate "artefact" windows for "discourse", and also the GroupScribbles article about providing tools that don't structure what you do but let you do things how you want to (as opposed to highly structured environments ala Suthers):
If we were sitting in the same room, we'd be passing notes... :) lol
well, or breaking up into small groups sitting at different tables, or moving around.  Personally I picture myself sipping champaigne LOL--
exactly. which is kind of what we've been doing with the Skype dyads. works best in pairs though.   I can well imagine voxli being used to make it even more like table hopping (oh, but not in China or on Linux - d'oh)... some co-presence indicators would enhance it a bit further, so we could know who was "where".  (Longstanding etherpad feature request too by the way, improved co-presence indicators. - there are ways of jumping the great firewall of course. i'd like to play with voxli some time)I wish we could have "tails" for each of these threads, that we could customize or tag for our own future reference... - yeah... really light-weight thread management, with easily seeing where activity is going on, filtering what you are viewing etc. It's a really cool design challenge actually. 

too bad etherpad export to HTML doesn't preserve the author colors... and also not the chat. (etherpad seems to think the chat is not part of the collaborative artefact at all - would be really neat integrating them more: