Trans-dimensional Knowledge Forum!

I’ve spoken before about the two archetypes of Internet-based distance education: asynchronous (typically using message boards, email, etc., and allowing participants to contribute at times of their convenience) and synchronous (text or video chat, immersive environments, etc., which permit instantaneous communication and feedback, but require participants to adhere to a common meeting schedule like a traditional classroom).  My interest is mainly in the latter, but there are awfully neat asynchronous environments being designed at OISE and elsewhere to plumb the affordances of time-independent communication, such as deep organization, refinement, and archival of ideas while the communities involved collaborate to build knowledge.  We’ll be talking with Stian and Marlene Scardamalia at my research meeting in an hour or so about Knowledge Forum, which you can learn about quickly with Stian’s video, below.

A Demonstration of Knowledge Forum (v2) from Stian Haklev on Vimeo.

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Open Education Scoop

Danny from 2017: My stated goal in going to OISE and bashing myself against a master’s degree was to figure out how to make post-secondary education free for everyone, obviating the boundaries of socioeconomics and geography.  Meeting Stian during an orientation session before the start of my first year was both humbling and a massive relief: he was working and developing systems alongside folks at the forefront of “open education” (imagine, I wasn’t the first one to come up with the idea…), and he was in command of stupendous contextual knowledge of the field; so, better men than I were on the job (sigh), and I didn’t need to save the world because better men than I were on the job (hooray!).

As I acquaint myself with WordPress’ levers, pulleys, and screws, I’m haphazardly contributing to a directory of links you can find south (at time of writing) of my biography on the left-hand column. My intention was to devote a section entirely to Open Education links and then gradually introduce them (and the concept of open education itself) to you, patient readers, over the course and career of this ’blog. In typical fashion, however, Stian Håklev just brought together much more information that I would have mastered in the next few months, and presented it with nearly TED-like production value to a largely awed and enthusiastic crowd of our OISE professors. So, uh, you should read his ’blog.

I will still gradually introduce many of these resources myself, largely because I am myself gradually exploring them for the first time and find that they are less daunting if approached more leisurely (this is my pedagogical gambit to avoid a Semelean tan). For those of you with interest in the topic and even less expertise than me, just bear in mind that others have tread here first and if you’d like to move more quickly, Stian is your man. The fast track starts here.

So, what is open education, and why should we care about it? 

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Danny from 2017: Accidentally, I’m adding this on New Year’s Day, 2017, which seems to harmonize with the notion of arbitrary beginnings and the declarations around them.  This was more coherent than the first first post, but clearly not by very much.


I think, more or less, I’ve stayed true to my proclaimed intentions for the blog, though Philomathy did (and likely continues to) suffer from the dereliction I anticipated.  The website I referred to, incidentally, was, which has been totally defunct since well before 2009, and had been a high school collaboration with Victoria Panos (and eventually Geoff Core in university) where we’d post our webcomics, The Stairwell and Snow in October, respectively.

Alright, perhaps a high-twee mission statement with an extensive pre-ramble wasn’t the most astute PR decision I could have made, though in a few years, when rules the Internet and cyber historians clamour to write its biography, its aggressive salutation will be vindicated and lauded. Luckily, I have between now and then to remove the actual first post where I was still fooling around with themes and emphasis colours.

Welcome, readers!

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Welcome to (Fragment)

Danny from 2016:  Re-reading this fragment (I don’t think I wrote this by hand, and can’t find more than what’s posted below), it’s stunning to me how much my motivation to communicate has changed in seven years.  I understand everything I’ve written below, and while the diction is definitely highfalutin, I don’t think it’s imprecise with regard to what I wanted to express, and how it pleased me to express it.  For a first post (for any post), it feels so unwelcoming, though!


At the time of this writing (December 22, 2016), I vacillate between feeling that I’ve lost something by not being able to command these kinds of words the way I used to, and feeling like I’ve matured to the point where abstruse usage is a kind of failure of consideration for my audience.  I believe this describes a trade-off between merciless precision in rendering the ideas in my head (with their exact emotional flavours or intertextual echoes) and decipherability to anyone not in my head.  I’ve definitely transitioned from valuing the former to valuing the latter.


Does that mean I’ve sold out?  Does painting this shift as an act of compositional maturity, or even as a choice, allow me to deny fears that I’ve burned out and lost my spark?  Facing these questions makes it even harder to read this stuff than the word-choice would suggest, and it makes it harder to write more.  Tricky business.

I am subject to a socially-debilitating frisson whereby my inner narrative slows and distends: queued sentences fall into clauses, then words, then morphemes, and then sometimes, constituent letters (though this last happens with increasing scarcity as the incursion of spell-checking software further and further into my patterns of composition is eroding my orthographical confidence). The outward manifestation of this phenomenon is that I have lost my train of thought, perhaps because I have been speaking ex-proctologically (this is not always never the case), but witnesses concerned for my cognitive acuity and fitness may be cheerfully reassured that I am even then merely in the throes of a kind of lexophilic masturbation which involves them only peripherally at best. My frisson culminates in the spontaneous synthesis of long forgotten, or at least hitherto dissociated, etymological data into a personally novel insight regarding the use, significance, and varying aptness of a commonly invoked word I had been presently planning to deploy. Naturally, by the time I have sanitised and condensed my epiphany into a generally edible product, its sovereign relevance to the conversation has waned and I wind up looking like a weirdo.

Danny from 2016:  Here endeth the fragment.  I probably continued in this excruciating vein until the end, but it still feels like a shame not to have the original, mindnumbing document for archival purposes.  Ah, well.

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