Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology is: "an approach for hosting meetings, conferences, corporate-style retreats and community summit events, focused on a specific and important purpose or task—but beginning without any formal agenda, beyond the overall purpose or theme." (from Wikipedia article)

OST was developed by Owen Harrison and has seen its greatest use in unconferences. I was introduced to it at the NYSAIS Education and Information Technology conference, where the technology was masterfully implemented by Arvind Grover, Alex Ragone, Barbara Swanson and the other conference organizers.

With OPuS I'm trying to work out how to apply OST to an unSchool model. Will concepts developed for short conferences scale for long-running communities of practice?

Owen Harrison has articulated one law related to OST.

Owen explains his one "Law," called the "Law of Two Feet" or "The Law of Mobility", as follows: If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else. In this way, all participants are given both the right and the responsibility to maximize their own learning and contribution, which the Law assumes only they, themselves, can ultimately judge and control. When participants lose interest and get bored in a breakout session, or accomplish and share all that they can, the charge is to move on, the "polite" thing to do is going off to do something else. In practical terms, Owen explains, the Law of Two Feet says: "Don't waste time!" (Wikipedia)

That law will determine the fate of OPuS.

Communities of Practice

This image is a little confusing so a brief explanation. I'm trying to envision a virtual community of practice. A small group of people passionate about a subject and sharing ideas in a virtual space.

Bill Fitzgerald has shared a really interesting Drupal project he is developing which might work as the forum at the center of a virtual CoP. I have high hopes for this!

I used the following video in the prezi shared in the previous post. It captures so much of what I'm trying to accomplish with OPuS that it is worth breaking out and showcasing here.

Latest Thoughts on the OPuS

First, Demetri Orlando suggests using 'OPuS' instead of 'OPUS'. This would imply that the full name is 'Online Progressive unSchool', which seems reasonable to me. Thanks Demetri! If you think you might like to help with the development of OPuS please check out this wiki.

I tend to do most of my brainstorming about OPuS early in the morning. I'll get up at 5 or even earlier to have the free time to just sit and think and tweet quietly. I use a sketch pad to get ideas out where I can look at and puzzle with them. Often I'll draw little sketches. The sketch below explores the idea that OPuS will provide an infrastructure of platforms upon which students can share and develop their ideas.

I also like to send out a few tweets each morning, in which I try and capture my latest thinking. Here are some from the past few days. Read from bottom to top if you want to read in the sequence posted.

•We know that in the brain knowledge is networked. We still don't get this regarding our communities, but the net is growing.

•OPuS is an infrastructure supporting open and visible platforms which facilitate rapid development of mastery in one's interest domain.

•Role of the Online Progressive unSchool (OPuS) is to open up opportunities for others to shine.

•Help envision & construct a place where students can connect with others who share an interest. http://j.mp/eMgnco @jseelybrown

•Help design & create a place where students' drive for autonomy, mastery & purpose can thrive. http://j.mp/eMgnco @danielpink

•Help imagine & build a place where students can find and pursue what @sirkenrobinson calls their 'element'. http://j.mp/eMgnco

•Curious about OPUS? Want to spend some time in your own ZPD? Come visit at: http://eva2.wikispaces.com

•Coming to help build OPUS? Don't forget your toolbox! We are gonna need all the tweet'n, blogg'n & wiki'n skills we can rustle up.

•Out there on the pedagogical frontier we are going to have a virtual UnSchool raisin'. Bring the whole family. We'll be building community!

•The Online Progressive UnSchool (OPUS) needs some pioneers to head out (virtually of course) to the far side of the adjacent possible.

•Perhaps the Zone of Adjacent Possible (ZAP) is to entrepreneurs what the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is to educators?

•Benefits to participating in OPUS. Improve your reputation, skills, knowledge & PLN all while playing, exploring & creating.

•Wondering if OPUS http://bit.ly/i3g69r might be beyond the adjacent possible http://bit.ly/dEkU1X

My Constructivist Kids

One of my sons used a Tensegritoy kit to build this awesome model.

I tried building the same shape a while ago and gave up in frustration.

This same son, who was visiting from Belgium, had brought his saxaphone but had no stand to hold his music.

My other son, upon observing this problem, dug out an old box of K'NEX and a short time later had constructed a great solution.

Showing A Little Red to Support Public Ed

An awesome group of faculty and staff from my school who wore red on January 4th to support our public school colleagues.  There were a bunch more who wore red but weren't free when we took the picture. A huge thanks to all these folks.

One of our staff people wrote the following. It puts all this in the proper perspective I think.

Awwww... I forgot to wear the red shirt I put out last night. But, son is a product of a public school and I support their fundraising efforts. It is really tough! The schools are cutting back on the arts, athletics, and many other enrichment programs.

In Philadelphia, some independent schools partner with inner-city public schools for music, dance, drama...sports, and some elective courses. Quite a beautiful thing!

Independent School Educators Wearing Red To Support Their Public School Colleagues

I sent the following out to my school's faculty and staff on Monday morning, and then shared the note on the ISED listserve with the hope that some others will consider showing support. Many faculty at my school responded positively. Hope folks at other independent schools will as well.


---------------------------------------------


As many of you know, public schools have been under tremendous stress
since the 2007 financial meltdown. Budgets have been slashed, hundreds
of thousands of teachers laid off, and the low-income populations
served by public schools are experiencing economic hardship we can
hardly imagine in our privileged school environment.

Many of you may not know that public schools serve 98% of the school
age population, while independent schools serve the other 2%. NAIS
schools serve about 1%.

Currently many politicians and pundits are blaming public schools and
public school teachers for failing to raise test scores.

Public school teachers are feeling very discouraged in this climate.
To show support for public schools there is a movement to wear
something red this Tuesday.
https://sites.google.com/site/sosmtm/wear-red-for-public-ed/why-red

A group of independent school educators is working to let our public
school colleagues know we support them by sharing group pictures of
those teachers at our schools who wear red on Tuesday. If you plan on
wearing red tomorrow let me know and I'll work on arranging a time for
a group picture.

I've created a discussion on ISENET
(http://isenet.ning.com/forum/topics/showing-support-for-public) where
we can share pictures.

Fred

PS Wouldn't it send a great message to see the NAIS staff decked out
in red tomorrow! :-)

Getting the Shot

My kayaking companion pausing for a picture during a paddle last summer out of Round Pound, Maine. On a gray January 1st I just wanted to put a sunny summer image up.