An Interview with Prof. Garikipati: How a Flipped Classroom in Ann Arbor Can Reach a Global Audience

Krishna Garikipati is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics at the University of Michigan. His work draws from nonlinear mechanics, materials physics, applied mathematics, and numerical methods. He is particularly interested in problems of mathematical biology, biophysics, and materials physics.

Professor Garikipati has recorded over 250 video lectures related to two of his on campus courses: Introduction to Finite Element Methods and Continuum Physics. Professor Garikipati has used the videos in the Intro Finite Element Methods class to bring a flipped learning experience to his students. In addition to their use as course material, both series of lectures are being viewed by students, post-docs, faculty colleagues, and researchers within and outside U-M to enter new research areas. Each video focuses on a single topic, such as the “Pythagorean Theorem” for Intro to Finite Element Methods or the “Lagrangian description of motion” for the Continuum Physics lecture series. The videos are generally between 5 – 20 minutes long and are presented in a style similar to U-M MOOC and Khan Academy lecture videos. The videos were created with the support of the Office of the Provost’s Digital Education and Innovation initiative, and the Division of Integrative Systems Design in the College of Engineering.

Professor Garikipati has graciously agreed to share some of his flipped learning insights with us and his motivations for sharing the lectures as open education resources.

Screen capture from Boundary Conditions (01.03) video by Krishna Garikipati. CC BY NC

Why did you decide to flip these classes?

Even with advanced classes, I would hazard that upward of 90% of the lecture time is used to cover the same material each time the class is taught. This prevents us from delving deeply into the most interesting and challenging questions, and also from embarking on new subject matter over the years. With the flipped classroom, students can get to this foundational, and repetitive, material on their own time, while we use actual class time for the really deep/novel ideas.

How has the flipped learning approach changed your time with students in the classroom, and how have your students responded?

I still use nearly all the time available to me in the classroom. However, it is used to quickly summarize and integrate the lectures that the students have watched most recently, or to take some ideas and work them out in much greater detail than I could do before. I have found, while lecturing, that the students’ preparation is significantly better. The classroom lecture turns out to be much more sophisticated. By and large the students appreciate the ability to watch the foundational material at their own pace. For some this is faster, for others slower than the pace that I would previously set in class. Most notably, they like being able to replay very short segments as many times as necessary to grasp a particularly nettlesome idea. This is the sort of thing that one cannot do in class: How many times will you ask the instructor to explain the notion of mathematical consistency under the glare of your fellow students?

Screen capture from Consistency of the Finite Element Method (05.03) video by Krishna Garikipati. CC BY NC

What advice do you have for faculty members who are interested in flipping their classrooms?

It is a lot of work. Recording lectures takes about 1 ½ times the length of the actual lectures–when all goes well. The format requires you to leave behind your classroom persona and make the camera “your friend.” Until that happened, I felt really quite at sea. In my case, it helped that some of my graduate students, post-docs, and others who worked in closely allied groups had an interest in watching the recordings as a live audience. Google Hangouts allowed us to do that. They would flag me down (literally) when they had a question, and that created an alternate environment to replace the classroom feel. Finally, it now takes me more preparation to enter a live classroom in which the students have just watched some of my recorded lectures. I need to remind myself of what they saw, what notation I used for certain quantities, and what remarks I made. Previously, I could think through the mathematical treatment and physical arguments just before class, and allow the mathematics and physics to guide me through the actual lecture. Now I watch the entire lecture material that they have watched. Speeding up the video by a factor of two helps, but not much more. The payback, however, is tremendous. In my case it allowed the class to rise to a level of sophistication that I had not expected. I would do it again, and intend to!

Why did you decide to select a Creative Commons license for the videos?

Both my series of lectures are now available via Open.Michigan and YouTube. The Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial license allows anybody to use it for instruction or to gain entry to a new area of research. The reach that this provides to one’s scholarly work is actually unparalleled by any other means that we would have employed previously. This is what academics is about.

What excites you the most about sharing the videos openly on Open.Michigan, YouTube, and beyond?

These are advanced topics–especially Continuum Physics. It is very fulfilling to be able to reach advanced graduate students, post-docs, established researchers, and even professors the world over in these topics. I know of some who have used these lectures as preparation as they have entered new areas of research. This is the most exciting aspect to sharing the lectures via these forums. I would not have been able to reach this wide of an audience otherwise.

Screen capture of YouTube playlist for Lectures on Continuum Physics

From Flipped Learning to Open Sharing

Open.Michigan is thrilled to share Professor Garikipati’s recordings because of their high quality, comprehensiveness, and because this emerging pedagogical approach has been shown to improve student learning. If faculty members and staff involved in the production of flipped learning experiences address copyright issues and licensing in their pre-production processes, then they will have the opportunity to maximize the educational impact of their flipped learning resources by publishing those resources on platforms like Open.Michigan, YouTube, and iTunes U. It’s really exciting to have Professor Garikipati’s courses illustrate this idea, and it will be very interesting to see how the growing demand and infrastructure for flipped learning at U-M influences the University’s culture of sharing.

View Professor Garikipati’s courses on Open.Michigan:

An Interview with Prof. Severance: MOOC & OER Proponent on "Sharing the Value that we Produce at U-M"

Professor Charles Severance (“Dr. Chuck”) is a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI). Dr. Chuck has already made legendary contributions to the OER and MOOC movements. He’s held “office hours” with small groups of MOOC students from all over the world, was the first U-M faculty member to apply CC licenses to materials offered within Coursera, authored two openly-licensed textbooks (Python for Informatics, and High Performance Computing), was a leading developer of and evangelist for the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, and has reached thousands of learners through Dr. Chuck Online, P2PU, Open.Michigan, and the iBooks store.

So what’s next for Dr. Chuck?

Programming for Everybody, a new U-M MOOC scheduled to start on Coursera on April 10, 2014. This free course will focus on teaching the basics of Python programming (with no complex math) to beginners from all backgrounds. Participants can expect to learn both how to program and where these skills can be applied. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

Programming for Everybody is also a completely remixable MOOC that’s taking the “open” in massive online open courses to the next level. All of the materials within the course, from the syllabus and textbook, to the videos and the auto grading software, are being shared with Creative Commons licenses, thereby encouraging everyone in the world to reuse and remix the materials for their own teaching and learning purposes. The remixability of the materials will be further enabled by pre-packaged “remixer kits” that can be loaded into learning management systems such as Blackboard and Moodle. This unique delivery of the course’s materials aims it at two primary audiences: students interested in learning Python and programming fundamentals, and teachers interested in using the materials in their own classrooms.

I caught up with Dr. Chuck to discuss Programming for Everybody, MOOCs, and OER in more detail.

What excites you the most about teaching “Programming for Everybody” as a MOOC?

I have long felt that the world needed a “Programming Literacy” course to help give people an “on ramp” to a better understanding of and increasingly technical world. I have been greatly enjoying teaching SI502 – Networked Computing at the U-M School of Information to incoming MSI students with no technical background. SI502 has been a great proving ground for my materials and approaches. I felt that the “on ramp to technology” class I wanted to teach fell somewhere between a junior year in high school and first year freshman level course. Teaching Programming for Everybody (PR4E) as a MOOC lets me interact with students in high school, college, and adults who want to come back to school and learn technology. I could never create an on-campus class in a physical location that would allow me to engage the highly diverse group of students I hope to see in PR4E.

Image courtesy of Dr. Chuck Severance under a CC BY license.

How do you see MOOC platforms and Open Educational Resources (OER) working together to form learning communities?

MOOC platforms are a wonderful way to promote an idea. By combining the strength of the Michigan brand with so many other wonderful schools – Coursera attracts a lot of students attention and gets students to the point where they will take a bit of a “leap” and sign up for a class. One of my concerns with OER materials is that potential faculty adopters around the world often think of them as somehow “not as good.”  I want to use the MOOC to show just how great my open materials are and give teachers who experience the MOOC a reason to make use of the open materials in their own classes.

Have your experiences teaching MOOCs and publishing OER impacted your approaches to teaching and sharing with on-campus students?

I have been publishing my course materials as OERs from the beginning. I long ago realized that it was far more important to insure a broad reach of the materials rather than to waste time trying to find avenues of commercial gain from my lecture materials. Also people will help you improve your materials if you show that you are not trying to be selfish about your work. If I have another faculty member cover one of my classes, they take my slides, improve them and then give them back to me under CC-BY. So having guest lectures improves my course materials.

Image courtesy of Dr. Chuck Severance under a CC BY-NC license

Why is it important for U-M faculty members to participate in MOOCs and to publish OER?

Leading public universities like U-M need to set the tone for higher education worldwide. We operate in the public trust for the citizens of the State of Michigan and indirectly for the world. We have a responsibility to give back value to the citizens of Michigan and any other stakeholders that invest in U-M. I think that OERs are a great example of sharing the value that we produce at the U-M.

As someone with so much experience with both MOOCs and OER, what advice do you have for faculty members who are interested in exploring these concepts?

Working with Open.Michigan in 2009 to publish OER from my MSI courses absolutely laid the ground work for the success of IHTS and the success of PR4E. Without that clearance and the associated education of me as a faculty member on how to do OER slides – it would have been far more difficult to do PR4E. So I like to make sure to put a Creative Commons License on my PowerPoints as soon as I start building them. When I record a video or audio of one of my lectures, my second slide is always an Open.Michigan / Creative Commons license image. In the lecture audio I specifically read the license within the first 10 seconds of the audio.  Remember that if you say nothing about the copyright it defaults to “All Rights Reserved,” so you must be explicit. One way or another, be mindful of the copyright decisions you are making. And remember that Open.Michigan is a guide and helper to faculty all along their path to open materials.

Programming for Everybody starts on April 10, Register Today!

Programming for Everybody starts on April 10, 2014. Click on “Learn for Free” and register to join Dr. Chuck and a cohort of beginning programmers on Coursera. Download OER materials from Programming for Everybody on Open.Michigan and start remixing!

Low-Cost Technologies for Distributing OER in Areas with No or Limited Internet

Common challenges to digital learning in developing countries include high technology costs, limited availability of technical resources or expertise, and an unpredictable infrastructure. A new set of low-cost technologies has the potential to lower barriers to the distribution of Health OER and other materials. Two such options, LibraryBox and Raspberry Pi, provide access to local wireless networks even in areas lacking power or Internet access.

First, on the recommendation of two master’s students from the University of Michigan School of Information, we explored LibraryBox. Through a web browser, users gain access to a list of files available to download. We used TPLink portable routers (approximately $40 each) to serve as the wireless access points. Anyone in range of the wireless access point can connect to browse the contents of the attached USB drive. We gathered Health OER content from dozens of sources to fill a 64 GB flash drive to distribute.

The Raspberry Pi is an ATM card-sized computer that is programmed using open source software to perform many desktop PC functions. Raspberry Pi includes all of the functionality of LibraryBox, and offers many more options in terms of services and customization of the user interface. For example, Raspberry Pi provides the option to connect to the Internet when connectivity is available, to download additional resources, such as syncing with a Dropbox folder. We experimented with multiple Raspberry Pi units, paired with a USB 1 Terabyte external hard drive, to provide access to an even larger collection of digital content over a local wireless network. Additionally, we added a rechargeable battery pack to serve as a backup power source. Setup for distributing offline digital content in this way costs between $100 and $200, depending on the accessories used.

Setting up and configuring these devices takes just a few hours, and does not require extensive technical knowledge. Once they are configured, it is simple to access or update the content. Anyone with a wireless capable device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, can access Health OER from the Raspberry Pi or LibraryBox when they are in range of this wireless network.

These low-cost technologies can provide access to digital content in institutions that are power-challenged, network-challenged, and economically-challenged. Between June and August 2013, we deployed nine Raspberry Pi devices to sites in Kenya and Ethiopia and eleven LibraryBoxes to sites in Liberia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. In the coming months, we will gather more feedback from our African Health OER Network partner institutions about the usability and maintenance for these low-cost, lightweight local networks and report on the results.

Attending the Digital Media & Learning Conference leads to more badging ideas

Exit strategy image of Chicago skyline as approached by Amtrak train (from south)
Exit strategy by bagaball on Flickr. CC BY license.

It was inevitable, taking the train to Chicago and spending 3 days with a super-diverse crowd of learners, educators, hackers, makers, academics, and civil servants was going to lead to a badge-fest of some sort. Open.Michigan has spent some time working in the badge-o-sphere, helping with advisory on the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure, piloting badges for our open community at the University of Michigan, and proposing some research on making badge systems more tuned to differences in cultural capital. Day One of the conference, Mozilla’s entire Open Badges team showed up and launched Open Badges 1.0, after a couple of years of hard work pulling together specs and building an incredible backpack display service. No matter what people actually do with badging, this system is slick, simple to use, and has loads of potential for peer and professional recognition of identity, skills, and engagement. Given the passion, organization, and money behind badging, I’d say it’s going somewhere and its our job to make it useful.

And that’s when I learned the newest high school in my area is gearing up for badging. Led by a forward-thinking group of students, educators, and academics, the Skyline High School is exploring how badges can be used to recognize learning and skill development both inside and outside the classroom. One of the content areas they’re interested in is Health and Medicine (warning: auto-audio on this page!). As I looked closer, I noticed that Skyline students can participate in a summer camp focusing on health and biomedical engineering. As an official employee of the University of Michigan Medical School my jaw dropped. Badges! For medicine! For everyone!

I’ve since reined in my excitement slightly, but I’ll be talking with the Skyline badging group in the coming weeks to see what’s going on there. Here’s where I think Open.Michigan and the Office of Enabling Technologies (within Medical School Information Services) can help:

  • provide infrastructure for awarding and displaying badges (through Mozilla’s Open Badges Backpack and through Open.Michigan’s platform: OERbit)
  • connect Med School faculty with Skyline teachers
  • develop mentorship opportunities through the badging system or in conjunction with it
  • provide guidance on identity-based learning development in health and medical education
  • bring awareness of badging to Med School admissions and faculty
  • provide infrastructure for Skyline students to develop and share artifacts of learning (evidence behind earning associated badges)

The list could go on, but these seem like immediately possible avenues of congruency. Honestly, there’s nothing more exciting than traveling long distances only to come upon something cool happening in your own backyard. A win for the DML Conference. A win for community.

My Experience Adopting an Open Lifestyle

Happy Open Education Week!

Let me start by introducing myself: I’m Trisha Paul, an editorial assistant at Open.Michigan. I’m a junior here at UM concentrating in English and aspiring to attend medical school. After speaking about my experiences with open education at the MLibrary Lightning Talks yesterday, I was inspired to write about them. In this blog post, I’ll be exploring what interests me about open education and how I’ve integrated open educational practices into my life.

A year ago at this time, I didn’t know what open education was. Copyright laws were entirely foreign to me, and I had never encountered Creative Commons licenses before.

Open.Michigan has opened my eyes to the world of open, and I’ve enjoyed learning and understanding the process of creating open educational resources.

What fascinates me the most about open education is its potency. Open education creates a space of collaboration, enabling an incredible sharing of knowledge. By encouraging this community centered around accessible education, openness supports creators who develop materials, instructors who implement them, and, perhaps most importantly, individuals with a desire to learn.

Learning about open education has allowed me to integrate openness into my life. In addition to openly licensing my own blog, I’ve particularly enjoyed sharing openness with STEM Society, a UM student organization that creates and implements lessons in science and math to teach high school students. Through STEM Society, I have been able to inform other UM students about openness, and we have been able to openly license our lessons as open educational materials.

STEM Society members have been incredibly receptive and enthusiastic about open education, which I think says something about the potential of open education. I think the greatest challenge that stands for open education today is awareness: once exposed to the world of open, it’s hard not to appreciate its benefits. If more faculty and students just knew about open education, I think that there would be an overwhelming amount of support.

In honor of Open Education Week, I think it’s important for us to both reflect on just how far open education has come as well as to look ahead to the future of open education. Openness has truly transformed education into an opportunity that can be accessible to everyone, and as more people become involved, I look forward to seeing what lies ahead.

DML Research Competition on Badging proposal: "Opening" Open Education

The skinny

Digital Media and Learning Research Competition on Badging and Badge Systems

Now for some background

The Digital Media and Learning initiative was launched in 2006 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to help understand how digital media and technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. This initiative has spawned a large number of research and learning projects, including the Open Badges work I’ve participated in over the last couple of years.

Over the last 4 years, the DML group has been running various competitions to encourage research and collaborative projects in this area, and last fall I decided to take a stab at one. Through some round-about networking at P2PU, I got linked up with Luka Carfagna, a sociology PhD student at Boston College, to submit a proposal to the DML research competition on badging.

A seemingly unlikely match, Luka brought her chops in the Bourdieusian framework for social inequality in education and I had been deeply interested in identity formation through learning (scroll to: sunflower experiment). Our shared love/hate relationship with open learning systems was the catalyzer for the whole project and while our initial proposal made it to the finalists stage of the competition, it went no further.

So, with that said, we’d like to share the proposal with the open community, because we’re interested in continuing our conversation about learners’ cultural capital (education, intellect, style of speech, dress)[1] and how it impacts the way they curate their own open learning experiences. We feel this is an underdeveloped area of inquiry, and would like to hear some other people’s thoughts on it.


The proposal

“Opening” Open Education: Understanding the Effect of Cultural Capital on Open Learning Trajectories

Luka B. Carfagna, Boston College

Pieter Kleymeer, University of Michigan

Executive Summary and Research Questions

From DIY U (Kamenetz, 2010) to eduX, the education world is abuzz with innovative experiments to address class inequalities in post-secondary education. Proponents of open education cite its potential to “open up” education by providing learning experiences that are typically free or low cost, peer generated or maintained, and shared worldwide through Creative Commons licensing. With so much energy, creativity, and so many education evangelists behind the movement towards open education there seems to be very little room to ask the critical but necessary question “Is open education open to everyone?”

There are obvious barriers to “opening up” open education, like access to the internet and language. However, an underdeveloped area of inquiry in this field is how user capital, specifically cultural capital, serves as a barrier to learning in the open education space. Bourdieu (1986) argues that cultural capital consists of non-financial assets that contribute to a person’s status and social mobility in society. From studies like Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods (2003), we know that low cultural capital (LCC) students experience a sense of constraint in the classroom while high cultural capital (HCC) students experience a sense of entitlement. In exploratory research, we have noted that cultural capital is affecting how learners choose their learning opportunities, how they curate their experiences, and how they make connections between their learning and economic lives. These curated learning opportunities and experiences are examples of learner trajectories – learning paths of individuals or groups of people. Open education systems have the potential to tailor learning trajectories to individual dispositions (Thomas and Brown, 2011), but if these trajectories are reproducing inequality through cultural capital then they may be no better than traditional education. Therefore, we first propose to ask: How does cultural capital influence learner trajectories in open education?

Digital badging has emerged as a method for expressing these trajectories on platforms such as Khan Academy and Codeacademy. Currently, many implementations of badges have focused on demarcating milestones or expected achievements in a prescriptive learning path. How prescriptive these achievements (and represented competencies) are is dependent on the community standards of whatever group or organization is issuing or awarding the badges. Other badge implementations, such as P2PU’s badge pilot project, have swung the opposite direction, letting individuals identify and describe their identity through badges. This type of learner trajectory focuses more on growth process than goal attainment. Because it is not tied to a preconceived path, it allows for more flexibility in how it is defined and how communities might value that growth. There is great potential for this type of badging to sidestep traditionally replicated inequalities and raises our second research question: How can learning platforms use badges that are sensitive to variance in capital to reconceptualize learner trajectories?

Background and Significance

In addition to cultural capital theory, we incorporate work on the new economy and identity theory into our framework for learners. New Economy scholars have criticized the American economic model as unsustainable and argue that to build a new economy, we must also build the education system that complements it. The 2008 financial downturn left countless Americans jobless and youth have suffered some of the highest unemployment levels since the downturn, despite having high levels of education, and subsequently high levels of student loan debt (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010; US Department of Education, 2011). Open and connected learning have been heralded as ideal models for teaching and learning 21st century skills in a volatile economy. However, unless open education is truly “open”, it will do no more than replicate existing inequality. Sociologists have long described ways that cultural capital in education can reproduce inequality (ex: Bourdieu, 1984; Lareau, 2003; DiMaggio, 1982; Dumais, 2002). Yet, new economists like Schor et al (forthcoming) and Johnston and Baumann (2009) argue that cultural capital has changed since theorists like Bourdieu first articulated the concept. As cultural capital shifts in the new economy, pathways to distinction could either adapt to preserve existing inequality or open up and democratize. In education, badging is akin to the abstract process of distinction Bourdieu describes. Badging operates as a marker of growth for individuals on open learning platforms and has the potential to provide a democratic pathway to identity distinction for open learners. Identity theory suggests that individuals are constantly sensing their environments, interpreting feedback on how their identity is perceived, and then comparing that perception to social and cultural standards the individual has adopted (Burke and Stets, 2009). While identity theory does not draw explicit connections to inequality, as part of the learning and self-identification process, we can see a point at which badging can be used to embrace and reflect variations and shifts in cultural capital (in both the user and the environment).

P2PU is using badging to promote 21st century skills like collaboration and project-based problem solving as well as content-specific competencies like Java programming. P2PU also offers the learner the unique opportunity to create her own learning and identity trajectory from passive observer to participant to mentor and teacher. With its large user base, collaborative organizational environment, and pilot badge program, P2PU is an ideal open education community in which to explore how cultural capital is influencing learner trajectory and how badging that is sensitive to capital can be used to reconceptualize learner trajectory. Through creative and rigorous social scientific research we have the opportunity to better understand learner trajectory as a feedback loop between self and environment. Open and connected learning is just as susceptible to the mechanisms of inequity as any other learning model, if such mechanisms are left taken-for-granted and uninterrupted. Our proposal aims to interrupt one potential corruptor of open education: cultural capital insensitivity. This research could provide groundbreaking steps towards designing a 21st century learning model that not only fits our vision for a new economy, but does so with intentional awareness and intolerance for 20th century inequality.


Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. The President and Fellows of Harvard College and Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “Forms of Captial.” From Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed: J.G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2010. College Enrollment and Work Activity of High School Graduates 2009. Retrieved (

Burke, Peter J. and Jan E. Stets. 2009. Identity Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

DiMaggio, Paul. 1982. “Cultural Capital and School Success: The Impact of Status Culture Participation on the Grades of U.S. High School Students.” American Sociological Review 47:189-201.

Dumais, Susan. 2002. “Cultural Capital, Gender, and School Success: The Role of Habitus.” Sociology of Education. 75.1: 44-68.

Johnston, Josee and Shyon Baumann. 2009. Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Kamenetz, Anya. 2010. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Chelsea Green Publishing

Lareau, Annette. 2003. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press.

Schor, Juliet et al. forthcoming. “An Emergeing Eco-habitus: The Reconfiguration of Cultural Capital Practices among Ethical Consumers.” Journal of Consumer Culture.

Thomas, Douglas and John Seely Brown. 2011. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Createspace.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2011. 2008–09 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates (NCES 2011-236).


© 2012 Carfagna and Regents of the University of Michigan


Berlin is played out.

I’ve returned from Berlin on my two+ week adventure at the P2PU pop-up office (previous blog post). As I anticipated: I met a bunch of wonderful people; I worked and I played and the lines between were quite blurred. You can catch up on all the activity from the pop-up office on the P2PU blog, but I’ll give a little recap from my time there below.

sign in front of Agora Collective, Berlin
Agora Collective, by bagaball (CC BY)


I spent most of my waking hours thinking about, designing for, destroying and creating the School of Open. What fun it was. And a lot of work. The two main things I wanted to walk away with after two weeks were a School “philosophy” and an opportunity to build things quickly, even if they fail. Luckily I had an awesome team (Jane Park and Molly Kleinman), so we walked away with a whole bunch more. Here’s what we made:

philosophy for what the School is about

guidelines for adding to the School

user scenarios showing a snapshot of the School’s audience

– new and modified courses/challenges (brand new: Get CC Savvy, Teach Someone Something with Open Content)

badge ideas for School participation

– a workshop toolkit (not finalized)

We also managed to run two workshops, one virtual and one physical (see Jane’s writeup on this), where we built courses, received feedback on the structure of the School, and got to play around with what openness means to a wide variety of people. The P2PU crew ran a third workshop as I was leaving that started weaving together openness and web design. The School will continue building and expanding as long as there are people interested in learning how to incorporate more open practices into their lives.

model of learning processes
Sunflower Model by Pieter Kleymeer (CC BY)


As though all the School of Open work wasn’t enough, I took some time to keep thinking and talking through what I’ve previously called the Sunflower Experiment. I had a few great discussions with Alan Webb, who’s working on developing an Open Masters program that will help individuals outline and complete their own mastery of a particular topic area. Alan’s work tied in well with how I’ve been thinking of independent learners and how they interact with their environment and integrate new understandings of the world into their existing identity. We even came up with an interesting model (or two) to describe some of this. I’m in the act of incorporating this model and my initial Sunflower Experiment process into my “annual review” at Open.Michigan/Enabling Technologies. I’m learning that playing is a lot harder than I thought. Escaping the bounds of identity is difficult, but can result in really fun ideas and fun times.


I met this guy, Sam Muirhead, in Berlin. He’s a filmmaker who’s committing to living a year in openness and I couldn’t help but share in his enthusiasm for showing people what it can mean to do things, everything, in an open way. Open source software is just a small piece of the commitment – read more about his endeavor on IndieGoGo.

Lastly, thanks to all the great P2PU folks I got to work with over the last couple of weeks. I came home inspired and more disciplined and ready to build and make and watch and learn. Thanks especially to Jane Park and Molly Kleinman, my School of Open teammates, and Philipp Schmidt and Bekka Kahn, my P2PU overlords.