Drumbeat: The Future of Education (and Video)


Drumbeat “Future of Education” Demo from David Humphrey on Vimeo.

The Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona is over, but my head is still buzzing. It was fantastic to see what happens when you drop a whole bunch of enthusiastic educators and geeks in one location and let them go crazy.

While I’m still processing all the things I saw and heard (Graffiti Research! Hackbus! Massively Multiplayer Thumbwrestling! Robots! Hastac! Peer-to-peer learning! Badges!), Gabriel Shalom and Brett Gaylor interviewed me, along with some others, for WebMadeMovies. I was asked about the future of education. (Funny thing – I was supposed to answer in German, but my brain kind of refused to. I felt –and sound– like I was reading out a Google Translation of myself. Aaanyway.)

What you see above is of course just a video of the demo. It’s much, much cooler out in the wild, when the Open aspect kicks in and the video can interact with the HTML outside. (Like here.)

Interview: Mark Surman (Mozilla Foundation)


Mark pic by Kate

Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla Foundation and program chair of Drumbeat Learning, Freedom and the Web Festival, kindly gave me an interview about Drumbeat and why the Open Web is so relevant.

In three sentences: What is Drumbeat?

Mozilla DrumbeatOk. Three sentences. I’ll try 1. Mozilla exists to make sure the internet stays open and awesome. 2. With Drumbeat, we’re moving beyond Firefox to build more things that make the web better — not just software. 3. We’re doing this by reaching out new kinds of people — teachers, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists.

Why is that important?

It’s important because these people — in fact all of us — will have an impact on the future of the web, on what the web becomes.

If we care about the internet for the long run, that means getting people like educators involved in shaping the web in their world. Especially educators who are trying to disrupt and innovate. We can give them open web tools and thinking to help do this, which in turn helps the education web move in the right direction — towards something open, free and hackable.

This same scenario plays out with journalists, artists, filmmakers and so on. We want to help the innovators in these spaces take best advantage of the web, get them on board as our allies.

Which fields is Drumbeat focusing on?

Education and cinema are the two places we’ve put the most attention on in the first year. You can look at:

P2PU School of Webcraft, where we’re helping to build a free online school where web developers teach each other.

And Web Made Movies, a lab where filmmakers and engineers work together invent new kinds of web films.

These are examples of the kinds of things we want to do with Drumbeat. There are dozens more small projects brewing. I think you’ll see some the ones in journalism and art grow bigger next year.

In November you’re planning the Drumbeat Festival. What’s that?

It’s a crazy event where 400 people come to talk about the connections between learning, freedom and the web. And make things. And have fun.

More concretely: we have working on everything from web developer education to open text books to hackerspaces coming. And alot of tech and open source people. The ideas for them to find ways to shape the future of learning together.

It’s meant to be the first of many events like this, where we invite the the kind of people we’d like to bring into Drumbeat, find ways to work together and to work with each other.

Next year, we’ll likely have a different theme. Maybe ‘media, freedom and the web’?

How can the rest of us get involved?

It really depends what your interested in. If you are an educator or filmmaker, the projects I’ve mentioned above are easy entry points. And there will be more entry points in places like journalism, art, etc. coming very soon. Same goes if you’re a web developer or engineer who wants to help on projects like these.

More broadly than this, there want to do local Drumbeat events and a online activities and challenges that almost anyone can get involved in. We toyed with this in 2010, but really plan to go bigger with them next year.

Drumbeat Festival is from Nov 3-5 at Barcelona. The (already pretty sweet) program is further developed in the Wiki. Register for Drumbeat Festival here.

The interview was first published on netzpiloten.de under a CC by-nc-sa license. Photo by Mark Surman (some rights reserved).

Global map of Open Educational Resources


Heather Fond (blog), director of iCommons, created this map of Open Educational Resources (OER) and the most notable activists and organizations in the field. This is pretty awesome – check it out:

View Larger Map

I just added Creative Commons International – who else is missing? If you know any organization or activist, please add them to the map.

(via UNESCO chair in E-learning)

Workshop on social media in higher education (follow-up)


As mentioned before, earlier this week I had the chance to hold a workshop on social media in higher education at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). (Slides below or on Slideshare). It was a great group, very active and engaged despite their completely different backgrounds and the language barrier. (Thanks guys!)

Special thanks, again, to Josep Maria Duart, who invited me and Carlos Albaladejo, who organized everything (including a lot of green cables) and blogged live from the workshop.

(This presentation is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike, so you can use it both non-commercially or commercially as long as you do two things: a) reference me as the author and b) share your stuff under the same license.)

The workshop was roughly divided into three parts: A bit of Web 2.0 theory, just the basics plus some case studies of social media use in higher education; Then a practice session where we’d split up and play around with blogs, Flickr, Twitter etc; And a final part where the audience would share their experiences and we’d develop new ideas for social media use in the classroom.

This structure seemed to work quite well; maybe a stronger focus on practical applications would have made sense, i.e. maybe I should have shown more tools & tricks. Altogether, though, I have a good feeling everybody learned a fair bit, including me:

1.) Twitter, it was agreed on, isn’t the primary choice for in-class teaching. Which totally makes sense here, given that UOC is a virtual university and everything is done online anyway. Also, Twitter tends to draw a lot of attention, so you want to factor in some extra time for discussion if you show Twitter (which worked fairly stable – no fail whale sightings at all!). Twitter, it was proposed, would make a good presentation tool: “Begin with twitter, use it for presenting tools, end with theory.” By the way, nothing beats the effect of discovering your colleagues posting live, it’s always a blast:

Twitter: First Post

2.) Blogs and Wikis are a great start for university courses to start using social media. Wikis are harder to maintain as the entry barrier (syntax and writing culture) is higher. Blogs are easy to start, and I was glad to hear that one department was afraid of enabling comments until they noticed that the comments were overwhelmingly constructive – now they’re open and not moderated. Great!

3.) Flickr can be useful, but it’s probably won’t be a key service for your classroom – unless you are looking for photos licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows you to use the photos for free as long as you link back to the source. You can search for those photos here.

4.) Etiquette in our times of digital social network is still evolving, and quickly. What do we post online, why and how do we post? Should teachers be Facebook friends of their students? How much of a role do cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe play when interacting online?

5.) One thing, however, clearly stood out. Everybody agreed there is one major issue with everything Web 2.0: Time. Time, time and time. Maintaining social web tools like wikis, Facebook or Twitter takes time, and a lot of it. Where should that extra time come from, or where else can we save it?

To wrap this post up, here’s a few more links.

Links & tools that might be useful:

  • Google Feedreader to follow many RSS feeds more easily
  • Summize.com to scan Twitter for interesting conversations about certain keywords
  • del.icio.us to collect your bookmarks and share them with friends and colleagues (my bookmarks for elearning)

Useful articles, posts and blogs:

Thanks again everybody for the great time, and please feel free to get in touch anytime via email or Twitter.