On February 2nd, 2013 the second annual QuasiCon was held. This is a really wonderful student driven "quasi-conference" at the University of Michigan. 

The format of the event aims to promote attendee driven conversations in the first half of the day and then more formal presentations in the afternoon. The morning begins by people breaking out into small groups, brainstorming ideas and areas of interest and then coming together as a whole group again and voting on the top 2 ideas from each group. Having attended the first QuasiCon and now this one, I can honestly say this time brings up very interesting topics and even more interesting discussions! One I remember from last year was "sexy technology" and this year we had topics that ranged from "librarians in fiction" to a discussion on wikipedia and education. This year, QuasiCon added a new element, badging the conference to recognize the participation of attendees....but I will be posting another blog entry on that alone since I was lucky enough to be a part of its implementation!

This first half was a fantastic start to the day this year. It was great getting to have  conversations and really hone in on areas and ideas we wanted to discuss as students and professionals. QuasiCon attracts a diverse group of information professionals and so many areas of expertise that the conversations can go in so many directions and offer many insights. In one of the sessions I attended that dealt with wikipedia and its role in education, the discussion ranged from stigmas in academia to the worrisome demographics of Wikipedia editors. 

The second half of the conference was a little more formal in its scheduling and planned sessions. I was able to attend a session on Diversity in Librarianship by Crystal Jolly, a lightening talk on badging by JJ Pionke, and a talk by SI student and Ford Library's Wikipedian in Residence, Michael Berera and Ann Arborite, Ed Vielmetti. I learned some new things about diversity in the field of librarianship and engagement around Detroit and also got to sit in on sessions I am already very interested in: the badging discussion that introduced attendees on a new eBook project that JJ Pionke is working on and the Wikipedia and Ann Arbor Wiki talk that discussed engagement, crowd sourcing and the role of Wikis in communities. 

I was also on a panel in the afternoon. The panel I participated in with three of my peers was on Makerspaces in different settings: Higher education, community, and public school. Feel free to watch the presentation below:
I am happy to have been able to experience this great meeting of the minds that shows the dedication and interest of the students at the School of Information. The last two years have been a great kickoff and I can't wait to see where it keeps going in the future. 
Introducing the Workshop to the Participants / Open.Michigan / CC BY
Last Friday I ran a workshop at the University of Michigan where a group of eight worked through the P2PU School of Open challenge "Get CC Savvy." A year ago or even a few months ago, I would have never imagined taking part in such an exciting opportunity.

So what got me here? Well, to put it simply, a class with Kristin Fontichiaro at the School of Information and her choice to pair me with mentor, Emily Puckett Rodgers at Open.Michigan. The class and mentorship were structured to give me the chance to explore my personal interest in open education and informal learning opportunities with a focus on information literacy and teaching opportunities.

After a few conversations and brainstorming sessions, Emily and I aimed to try and get the educational potential of the School of Open offline and into a group setting. It was an experiment to see how well an online and physical learning environment could work together.

Were the School of Open challenges able to support this kind of learning?

What benefits would there be to learning something like Creative Commons in this sort of setting?

How do we record the evidence and learning that is taking place?

We couldn't answer these questions, or any of the other many questions we had. But we were ready to learn something from this event.

The session drew in participants of all different backgrounds from experts of Creative Commons at Open.Michigan to students interested in librarianship, information policy, and even a student Wikipedian at the University of Michigan.

This informal setting allowed for flexibility and creativity on how this session would evolve. I wanted participants to pick how they wanted to learn as long as they followed two measures of engagement: 1. That they created an account with P2PU if they didn’t have one and 2. To comment and engage with the actual challenge and its tasks in the discussion areas.

I asked for participants to abide by these measures to encourage them to preserve evidence of the types of learning and questions that were inspired by the session and to encourage them to (hopefully) explore P2PU and School of Open more at a later date.
Get CC Savvy Workshop Students Watching a Challenge Video and Discussing / Victoria Lungu / CC BY
As seen above, and as evidenced in the ”Get CC Savvy” challenge discussion fields, the eight of us worked together to explore the content, ask questions, post comments, and discuss personal perspectives and experiences relating to Creative Commons. We were even lucky enough to have an audio clip captured (It can be found and listened to in the discussion section of Task 3 in Get CC Savvy) and a fairly immediate response from Jane Park, Creative Commons project manager and P2PU founding volunteer, to one of the participants questions. The multimedia evidence and outside engagement really enhanced the experience and created a rich environment for learning. 

While the hour and a half session allowed for this in depth exploration of Creative Commons, it also taught us about how group dynamic and other factors impact the takeaways and experience. 

1. This experience was unique in that it actually had experts in the room, including Piet Kleymeer who helped build the challenge. While this won’t always be the case for others who choose to develop workshops like this, it definitely allowed for a more dynamic conversation and avenues of exploration than if there had not been someone to field questions. Even though we were fortunate in this aspect, it makes me question how deeply might one explore content like Creative Commons in an online module without that facilitation.

2. Sometimes things built for individual work and short answer don’t always help facilitate a group effort to work through the material. Some of the exercise answers and singular tasks required more front-end effort to structure it into conversations to draw out the participatory aspect of the workshop. While P2PU and School of Open are not necessarily built to support live group workshops as a main source of learning, is there a better way to facilitate this method of learning the challenge content on P2PU?

3. Capturing the learning that happens in a group can be hard (especially when working through an online module). Early on, we were so involved in the conversation that we had hardly realized no one had captured the ideas we had discussed. Sometimes a discussion board might capture central ideas or themes but it cannot capture the dialogue and discussion that leads to ideas or encourage further exploration that happens in groups. Some of the best learning occurs in collaborative spaces and its something that should be preserved and shared when possible.

With all this in mind, would I do it again? Definitely. It is inspiring to participate in a conversation with minds that strive to understand, explore, and challenge ideas, new or mastered. The opportunity to see the group engagement play out before my eyes shows me the meaningfulness of the material and the ability of collaborative thought o spark interest beyond the framework of a challenge-- where informal learning really starts to take shape. 
On Fridays, at the University of Michigan's North Quad (105 S. State St), Open.Michigan joins different groups and organizations for a few hours to share a common space for studying and relaxation. A variety of events go on: english tutoring, writing support, yoga, study sessions, discussions, and much more. 

On October 26th, we are going to try something new at Fun Friday. I will be leading a session where participants complete a challenge on P2PU's School of Open

So let me back up and give a little background. P2PU is an open education platform that launched a few years ago to help establish a place for people to teach and learn about a wide array of concepts, skills, etc. People or groups can go in and create a challenge, a series of work and exercises that results in participants learning a new skill or idea. Anyone can take any challenge of interest to them and learn skills they want to learn.

Within P2PU, the School of Open was created to teach people about open content. The School of Open was only established this year and is still in its early stages but is growing with more content on all the wide ranging areas of open content; from Creative Commons to Wikipedia.

Now... back to Fun Fridays! On the 26th, I will be leading participants through the School of Open's "Get CC Savvy" challenge. This is an exciting opportunity for a number of reasons: 
  1. This is a very new resource! School of Open just launched which means its content is very fresh. While people have been learning about Creative Commons and Open Source for a while, this is a whole new way of learning about it.
  2. This is a learning experience for everyone! While you will be learning about Creative Commons and how to use open education sources like P2PU, I will also be learning about it. We will be learning about this together; how it really works, if you are learning what you thought you'd be learning, and if its a way people want to learn.
  3. This has never been done before (with the School of Open courses)! People usually work through online courses like this on their own and when they have time but for the first time, we will be learning this content as a group. This is a great opportunity to learn it together and to learn from each other. Yes, these are built for people to do individually and at their own pace but trying it out at a group will definitely be very interesting and maybe it will be something we want to keep doing ...we won't know until we find out.

Please RSVP below if you are interested in coming.

So come by, experiment, have fun, and learn something!

    What: "Get CC Savvy" Workshop 
    Where: Fun Friday @ 2435

                North Quad
                105 S. State Street, Ann Arbor
    When: October 26th, 2012
               1:30- 3:30 PM
    Who: Anyone

    Note: Bring your laptop!

At WIDE-EMU '12, the second annual an (un)conference, the central theme is focused on the questions:

 "What is composing today? How do people learn (and teach) it?"

This is a uniquely framed but central question to the way we are  constructing education and interacting with  information in our world today. We are surrounded by an abundance of learning communities and are constantly faced with new innovations and ways people are challenging conventional concepts of composition and instruction. 

I am presenting at this conference coming up on October 20th and I am choosing to  to take a unique approach to that question with my workshop: Keep it Open: Building Public Sites in the Wild. 

Check out my short video below!
I will be leading an interactive session where participants will explore search tools and educational resources that support strong educational practices for creating and using public websites in the classroom. 

People rarely consider who owns the variety of the images and resources we come across on the internet. Between the personal pictures, artistic content, and professional images we come across in a general Google search, we are often unaware of potential constraints when using those images. It's easy to lose track of their origin and start saving favorites (we all do it or Pinterest wouldn't be so popular!). 

I'll share an overview of the type of image content that is available on the web and the importance of recognizing the value of Creative Commons resources. Participants will take away core values that will help them make better informed choices on how they are building out websites and e-portfolios with reused image content and a collection of website resources that will make life easier! 

I am excited for this great opportunity to discuss and share information with others who are also interested in the theme this year. Check out the conference information and other participant content here: https://sites.google.com/site/wideemu12/