Hack Day Reflections

PRXer Becca Nesson describes her experience and her group’s hack day idea on the PRX blog:

The open-source Free Rice project was an idea I contributed in the first round.  It’s an idea that my father and I have been interested in for years and it seemed like a good fit for the day.  I was happy to see it progress through the rounds of winnowing.  Ultimately Matthew Battles of Metalab and Jeff Mao of the Maine Department of Education chose to work on it with me.  We spent some time discussing how we could make the project into something that school systems would be able to use and decided that ideally the system would be able to hook into an API provided by the testing company with which a school system contracts.  While Matthew and Jeff worked on ideas about the API and a presentation of the idea, I started to hack.


EdTech Researcher Blogpost Roundup

Berkman Fellow Justin Reich liveblogged parts of the Hewlett OER 2012 Grantee Meeting over at EdTech Researcher, hosted by Education Week.

Researchers and Educators Gather at the Hewlett Open Educational Resources Grantee Meeting

I’m spending this week at the annual Hewlett Open Educational Resources Grantee Meeting, where a group of developers, educators, and researchers are gathering to discuss the advancement of Open Educational Resources or OER. Hewlett defines OER as “high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that offer an extraordinary opportunity for people everywhere to share, use, and reuse knowledge.” Quite a bit fits under that broad definition, from Khan Academy videos to CK-12’s free textbooks. There are schools, like the Open High School of Utah or Peer to Peer University that have entirely open curriculum, aggregators like the OER commons and National Science Digital library, and courses like those found on MIT’s OpenCourseWare.

Massive Online Courses Create Bragging Rights for Universities, and Other Insights From Hewlett’s OER Meeting

Vic Vuchic, Hewlett’s program officer, explained the significance of Massive Open Online Courses, like those being offered by Stanford and MITx. There are some fascinating features to these courses: the tens of thousands of enrollees, the automated grading, the rush of venture capital into the space. But here’s the big deal: elite universities have spent recent years bragging about how many students they turn away and how selective they are. Here is a moment where universities start bragging about how many learners they serve and how many people they reach. That has the potential to profoundly shift how elite institutions of higher education see their mission in the decades ahead. It’s not just about technology; it’s about shifting culture.

When Teachers Demand to Be Co-Creators, Not Consumers

And as these educators staked their claim to a seat at the design table (and another seat on behalf of their students) there were plenty of nods in the audience, because lots of folks in the OER community are already inviting teachers and learners into real partnerships. I had lunch with Alfred Solis of the Buck Institute of Education, who is using Hewlett Funding to do a massive scaling up of their online PD around Project Based Learning. They are going to design courses that present projects to teachers that are about 65% finished, to scaffold teacher development as project designers and managers. I also ate with Mike Marriner of RoadTripNation, who is working to help teachers and students construct their own local road trips where they explore the different pathways that life offers to success and fulfillment. These are folks building curriculum development and professional learning organizations that imagine teachers as partners rather than wholesalers.

My own contribution to the Hewlett Grantee Meeting was a talk entitled “When Open Encounters Different Classrooms,” which is part of my ongoing campaign to raise serious concerns about issues of equity and education technology.

(Much more detailed papers, videos, and other descriptions of this work can be found here)

Hacking Open Education

Speaker and hack day co-organizer SJ Klein reflects on his experience at the 2012 OER meeting and a short overview of projects worked on during the hack day.

Hacking Education with Hewlett’s OER Grantees

I spoke to the grantees about the needs of content Builders, along with Hal Abelson and Ahrash Bissell, and took part in a variety of brainstorming sessions. My favorite moment was a debate about whether free knowledge and educational resources are (as I maintain) civic infrastructure, worth investment by cities and locales the way roads and libraries and wiring are. An unresolved question there: how a local government would identify what part of that global problem is theirs to locally provide or fund.

Hacking Open Education, Take 2

The past two days had seen the development of two dozen project ideas, many of them hackable, by the Hewlett grantees. We spent the first hour condensing those and some new proposed hacks down to 10 that seemed compelling and doable. People self-selected into groups to tackle these (in hindsight: we should have set a max team size of ~6). 7 projects were attempted, and 6 produced a hack – a pitch or minimum product that could inspire others to move it forward. At the end of the day, everyone gave 2-minute pitches to a panel of judges (a schoolteacher, a highschool student, and two berkman staff) who reviewed the results for hackability and near-term usefulness for OER.

(optional) Thursday Evening metaLAB Activity

Berkman Center fellow Dennis Tenen invites Hewlett OER Grantee Meeting attendees and hack day participants to his class on Thursday evening. Participants will get together at the Studio/Lab Hour for Prof. Tenen’s course Lit 110: Introduction to Experimental Criticism + RS 219: Digital Humanities 2.0 Seminar. Participants can join the students’ informal creative design, hang out in smaller groups to brainstorm for the day ahead, and even begin to form Hack Day teams. The focus on brainstorming the Hack Day will be on the problem spaces identified in the conference and the hackable problems they present.

Studio / Lab Hour
Lit 110: Introduction to Experimental Criticism +
RS 219: Digital Humanities 2.0 Seminar

Where: Arts @ 29 Garden Street (Chauncy St. entrance, directions)
When: 6-8pm, Thursday 4/5

What can literary analysis tell us about emerging textual practices: cooperation and co-authorship on Wikipedia, the usage of Twitter during protest movements, self-fashioning on Facebook, review culture on Amazon.com, and fundamentally, about the deluge of information that accompanies the advent of the information age? In this course, taught in conjunction with a graduate seminar sponsored by Harvard’s metaLab, we will learn to think big about digital archives, information architectures, live data, and large-scale textual corpora.

More info here.

Wikipedia project to support OER

In theory, Open Educational Resources and wikis go hand in hand. In our ranks, we have some of the most dedicated and accomplished users and advocates the collaborative online tools. So why is it that the OER article on Wikipedia carries the site’s second-lowest quality rating? It’s not just one article — the Open Access article shows room for improvement; the Open Educational Practices article doesn’t exist; and numerous related articles could be improved as well.

With all the wiki enthusiasts in our midst, this is a problem we are well equipped to correct. We can learn more about wiki collaboration, lift the tide of the OER movement, and improve the public’s understanding of our individual projects — all at the same time. A series of workshops (some colocated at conferences, but mostly online) in the coming year will provide a platform to do just that.

During the grantees meeting, we will introduce the Open Education Collaborative Documentation Project. This effort, led by Pete Forsyth of Wiki Strategies and Dr. Bob Cummings of the University of Mississippi, is currently in a planning phase funded by the Hewlett Foundation, and is proposed to take place during summer 2012 to summer 2013.


There will be three opportunities to explore the potential of this project during the Grantees meeting:

* An exhibition during the Wednesday afternoon/Thursday morning poster session, where Pete and Bob (cummings@olemiss.edu) will be available for discussion

* A mini-workshop during the Hack Day, where we can work on Wikipedia content together and explore possibilities. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hewlettgran…

* Pete will be conducting interviews with people from various OER projects: please contact him if you would like to schedule one prior to the meeting, or during a break, or in the evenings, or by phone after the meeting’s conclusion. Link: http://wikistrategies.net/contact

Agenda, Speakers, and More Details Posted

We very much look forward to seeing you on April 10-12 for the 2012 Hewlett OER Grantees Meeting. This email contains important details regarding logistics and the agenda. Please read it carefully and let us know if you have any questions.

[1] Locations & Maps: On Tuesday, April 10th, registration and check in will begin at 3PM in the Milstein East Room, on the 2nd floor of Wasserstein Hall (1563 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA) on the campus of Harvard Law School. A map can be found here: http://bit.ly/GUGIDH.  Directions from the local hotels, Harvard Square, or the airport to Harvard Law School can be found here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hewlettgran…

[2] Agenda: The final agenda for the conference has been posted to the website: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/oer2012/age…. We are planning for each session to engage in focused conversation, with an eye towards deepening our dialogue and fostering insightful conversation. We are committed to genuine interactivity throughout the event; all attendees bring important (and diverse) knowledge, expertise and experience to the key topic areas, and we hope to encourage active engagement from all participants.

[3] Participants: We encourage you to continue to post bio and contact information to the wiki page: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hewlettgran…. The affiliations listed on this page will be printed on your name badges, so please edit this page or email us edits by Thursday, April 5th.

[4] Poster/Exhibition Sessions: Please let us know if you would like to demo a project or reserve a space to discuss and present your work. We are hoping to create an informal “bazaar-like” exhibition space on the afternoon of April 11th and the morning of April 12th, which will enable various grantees and other participants to showcase their work and engage with others during the breaks.  You may bring a laptop or a small poster to set up, and we will have tables near the break area. If you would like to set up a demonstration, please let us know by Thursday, April 5th at the latest.  We ask that poster session participants set up materials during the lunch break.

[5] Hack Day: Thank you to those who expressed interest in participating in the Hack Day; we will be in touch under separate cover regarding final details. For those who haven’t yet RSVPd yet, it’s not too late. Please email  ashar at cyber.law.harvard.edu by Thursday, April 5th so that we can save you a spot. More information about the Hack Day can be found here: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/oer2012/hac…

[6] Recording and In the Moment Technologies. We will be recording meeting sessions and plan to post select discussions online to the event’s website. We encourage you to tweet, blog, and otherwise document the proceedings and share your outputs with  ashar at cyber.law.harvard.edu or on the event wiki. The hashtag for the event is #oer12hf.

Free Google Analytics Consulting with LunaMetrics

Looking for some help with your Google Analytics or interested in adding Google Analytics to your OER site? You can schedule up to an hour of free 1:1 consulting support with Robbin Steif at the  Hewlett OER Grantees Meeting. You can sign up for up to an hour on Wednesday the 11th (9-2), Thursday the 12th (10:30 – 5) or any time Friday morning (Hack Day).  If you want to sign up now (before the event), just send an email to steif@lunametrics.com

Robbin’s company, LunaMetrics, is the official consulting partner for the Hewlett Education Program’s OER Analytics Project. LunaMetrics support has helped grantees understand more about who is visiting their OER sites and from where, and how engaged users are with their respective sites.