Transcending the digital and physical at #altc22 – the #femedtechquilt

It’s always tricky to try and summarize a conference experience in one post, so this post like so many other of my past conference posts is not going to try to do that. Instead I want to take a few minutes to share what was for me the most important part of #altc22 – the #femedtechquilt.

The #alt22 conference was my first “proper” f2f conference since lock down. I was simultaneously excited and a bit anxious about it. All the preparation, traveling and packing which seemed so mundane in the “before times” took much longer. However being back in person with some of my favourite people was well worth it.

What added to the #joy and sense of place and community was undoubtedly the first public outing and joining of the #femedtechquilt. You can find our more about the origins for the quilt here, it did seem to me (and others) that the more that 2 year wait to see it IRL brought even more resonance and power to the underlying principles of the quilt and its physical presence.

The quilt represents so many people, so many issues. Of course the quilt is a community created object, but its driving force has been Frances Bell, who has spent so much time planning, co-ordinating, stitching, quilting and writing about the quilt.

Frances situated the quilt outside the main lecture theatre used in the conference. It was at once a grounding and centering force. Arousing curiosity, attracting attention, allowing participation, creating conversations and ideas for the future. In quite a magical way, the presence of the quilt provided a way to bind many of us together by providing a safe, open, space to have long overdue catch ups, to share experiences and allow time for reflection and just “being”.

It was wonderful to see Frances explain the history of the quilt to those who didn’t know about it, to help those who had contributed to it find their square, and support and encourage people to make a contribution to squares to be added to the quilt. One priceless moment for me was when Marion Manton (who had organised a quilting circle to contribute squares to the quilt as well as supply lots of fabric for quilting) saw the quilt for the first time. A wave of unrequited joy washed over everyone nearby.

I felt hugely privileged to be able to help drape the completed quilt for delegates to see. I didn’t contribute to the quilt. I had planned to, but at that point in 2019 I had a creative crisis and wasn’t able to do anything remotely creative. However I have promoted and shared what I can about it. And now, I have also sewn a button onto a square!

On the final day of the conference I really missed the physical presence of the quilt. However, I know this first outing of the quilt won’t be its last. So I just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the quilt, it really is a symbol of hope, of justice and the power of openness.

And of course congratulations to the ALT team, the Trustees, the conference committee and all the presenters and delegates for bringing #ALTC so successfully back to its physical space as well as supporting its digital spaces.

Photo  3 people beside part of the quilt on a table
Lorna Campbell, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin with the quilt

A different slice of social media – curating @femedtech #femedtech

I’m about half way through my first week of curating the @femedtech twitter account. If you are unfamiliar with @femedtech you can find out more here . Just in case you are unfamiliar with the network, here’s an overview.

we are a reflexive, emergent network of people learning, practising and researching in educational technology. We are an informal organisation with no funding: our resources are our passion, kindness, knowledge, enthusiasm and volunteer time.

One of the main ways to get involved in the network is to curate the twitter account for 2 weeks. Over the past year there have been a growing list of people willing to spend a bit of their time and bring their perspectives and interests to the community. I particularly enjoyed Martin Hawksey’s reflection on his experience as curator.

It’s been a really interesting experience for me so far too. I’ve actually found it really refreshing to be engaging with twitter in a slightly different way. The subtle differences in the @femedtech timeline to my own is very welcome. I’m not exactly “off twitter” but my use of it and other social networks has changed since I became freelance. I’m just not at my desk all as much and possibly, not actively seeking as many distractions . . . .

Martin Weller has written recently about the steps he is taking to try and manage his use of twitter. Taking control for me is quite key, and sometimes just stepping back is the best way to do that. So whilst I feel I’ve been doing that in my personal twitter account, this week I’ve been stepping forward with the @femedtech account. I’m not “tweeting like a maddie” (think I might TM that phrase) , but I am actually enjoying monitoring, responding, interacting with some different people and contributing to conversations in a slightly different way.

So if you are a bit jaded with social media, perhaps a slot of curation might help. You can find out more here.

My open balancing act #oer19

How do we mediate our place in the open community, aspects of which might conflict with our personal ethics?

This is one of the questions in the #openspaces session at #oer19 this week. I don’t know about you but my open practice is always a bit of a juggling act. Questions of how much can I share, where should I share it constantly running around my brain.

As you know, dear reader, I recently wrote a book (with Keith Smyth and Bill Johnston). Open education is a big part of the book, but the book itself isn’t available openly. I wish it was.

That was, and continues to be a struggle in terms of my own ethics and practice. However, we couldn’t afford to make it open access, we didn’t have research/institutional funding to do that. What we did have was interest from a reputable publisher and that academic pressure (probably self inflicted) to get a decent publication. We do highlight in the book the irony of writing about openness in a non open way, and we are also working on a couple of open access papers right now to make more of our thinking available. In fact, I have decided only to write any follow up articles for open access journals now.

Is that a cop out or just part and parcel of my continuing negotiation with openness? Hopefully something to pick up at the session later this week.

This post is cross posted from the Open Spaces site.