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Web 2.0, edupunk and acting

April 14th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I am a big fan of Mr. Downes. Usually I agree with what he says. But I think Stephen has called this one wrongly. In a comment in OL Daily on my post on last weeks open seminar on Edupunk Stephen says:

“In the 1980s, punk was replaced with what became known as New Wave. New Wave was a lot like punk, except that the artists were so dirty, untrustworthy, and disreputable. It represented, to many, the co-opetion [sic] of this movement. So when I read “Martin is seeking to open up the VLE and apply the ideas of edupunk in an institutional context [and not as] as subversive or a challenge to the establishment but rather as a way of enhancing the teaching and learning environment,” I want to call it N-Ed Wave or some such thing. Talking Heads. Human League. Soft Cell. Oh gawd. Say it ain’t so.”

I am not convinced about the movement from punk to New Wave. But as I said in my original article, we need to establish edupunk as having a meaning in its own right. The music analogy is getting stretched and has limited further purchase.

But coming back to Stephen’s comments about what Martin Ebner is doing, I disagree. Edupunk is about doing it yourself, about opening up educational technology to the users. And that can take many forms of activity. In a previous Evolve seminar on Personal Learning environments. In a CETIS presentation on Personal Learning and Web 2.0, Scott Wilson acknowledged the challenges posed by Web 2.0 to institutions. They could he siad, ignore, co-opt through embracing and extending or could invert though contributing and extending. Institutions should move:

  • From hosting to consultancy (HE no longer an ISP or corporate IT provider)
  • From closed to open ethos: on content, systems, processes
  • Adding value to the Internet, not duplicating functionality with added control mechanisms

Individuals could contribute:

  • Our information – data, research, publications, content via open web APIs
  • Our expertise
  • Our offerings and products
  • Our role as facilitators, guides, and trusted source

Martin Ebner is working within Graz University to contribute and extend the use of Web 2.0 for learning . And for me that is certainly within the Edupunk ‘tradition’. In a great post entitled ‘Learning to Love the term Edupunk‘, Frances Bell says she realises that that she has “missed a dimension that Chris Sessums captures in his response to a blog post on a previous Edupunk sessions

“Edupunk embodies this notion of educators as artists, those who intentionally trace and explore traditional boundaries and human expression. The edupunk meme signifies more than just a tart phrase pasted on the media landscape. To truly understand its meaning, you have to live it.”

That is really important, to capture the creative outlets that an edupunk approach offers to teachers and other learners.  I am prepared to live it, and am privileged to work with students in higher education who are negotiating challenging boundaries in learning, work and society.”

Jim Groom has also been posting a series of articles showing how the edupunk idea can be practised in education.

The disucssions on edupunk have the potential to evolve a new idea and vision of education and of the uses to technology for learning. That means not just talking but acting. Acting in collbaoration, acting as individual researchers and acting within institutions. As Frances Bell says: “Edupunk is only the beginning.”

6 Responses to “Web 2.0, edupunk and acting”

  1. Yeah, but you have to admit, the parallel is there.

    Punk was ‘doing your own thing’. New Wave was ‘doing tour own thing, politely, within an institutional context’.

    What we’re seeing from Martin Ebner is Edu New Wave. That’s not necessarily bad. Lots of people liked Talking Heads and Human League. And it’s better than Edu Disco.

    (I, however, am not one of them).

  2. Does that mean that my approach, which seeks to subvert institutional services and to really ‘Do it Yourself’ using a mix of ‘free’ external services is *real Edupunk* then? I appreciate the distinction Graham Atwell has made between Martin’s approach of integration and my own. But Edu New Wave? I think we are in danger of becoming tied up in the nomenclature here. There are shades of edupunk in everything we do, whether we are simply bolting on a wiki to the institutional VLE or going it alone.

  3. Steve, only you know whether you’re punk or new wave, because only you know how much of your work is of yourself, and how much of your work has more institutional origins.

    I’m not trying to create a whole set of terminology here, but I think the historical parallel is useful. Punk was co-opted by the record companies and became new wave. When that happens to edupunk, we can fairly say it’s edu new wave.

  4. Jim says:

    I have to agree with Graham that the musical metaphor is only useful to a degree, and that degree has long past. There is no one way to understand a space of exploration and experimentation, and while I have deep reservations about institutionalizing such a logic, I think institutions like mine have up and until now allowed these possibilities to flourish. I don;t think there is an either/or proposition here, and I think conflating an approach to edtech with the co-option of the music industry isn’t all that fair. This is born of a space to re-imagine one;s relationship to institutions, and therein lies its power. for while I agree with Stephen that the work must be part of one’s self, we can’t sit here and presume to make so judgment calls on others. It leads to all kinds of unnecessary and unproductive positioning of who’s more EDUPUNk than who. I could care less about that dynamic, I am, however, excited that people both in and outside of institutions are imagining a third space for creativity, expression, and a new logic of sharing/ownership. And if that is associated with EDUPUNk or EDU New Wave, so be it. The experimentation and expression is key, and this field could only benefit from a wide variety of this kind of thinking. There is no one way to skin this cat, and you can’t live a wrong life rightly.

  5. Frances Bell says:

    Well I certainly agree we’re in danger of getting tied up in the terminology. My own mini journey through Edupunk has brought me to the Digital Literacy layby – another contested term.
    @StephenDownes – is having ‘institutional origins’ a litmus test for quality or ‘punkness’?
    To me what is important is being critical and reflective alongside the fun experimentation and creativity

  6. Martin Lindner says:

    as someone who had his creative coming-out with New Wave (not Punk, for which i was both too late and too timid then), i’d like to insist that Stephen’s interpretation of NewWave as ‘doing your own thing, politely, within an institutional context’ is not perfectly true. the uncompromising creativity of, say, Gang of Four, Wire, Joy Division and even the Dexy’s Midnight Runners, to name a just few, was certainly not second to Punk (which has been really creative only for a short period of time).

    that said, there are three interesting observations about this metaphor:
    (1) all Edu 2.0/Web 2.0 activists i know are *heavily* into (underground) pop. i think, there is some inner logic to that: an ecosystem based on quck creation on the spot, sharing, seeking resonance, heated circulation, based on microcontent (like songs/tracks) … it was like a playful laboratory for the Web.
    (2) Martin Ebner is *not* listening to Punk (or to New Wave, for that matter). I know his playlist.
    (3) What I do fear is not the Talking Heads, but the poU2 of EduPostpunk. (Probably this is already under way, in some new FP7 “Networks of Excellence”.)

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