It’s 106 miles to Newscastle, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.


Remixed from Alphacoders wallpaper with OER 14 photo by Simon Thomson (@digisim)

As we sat down to plan, my most important concern was prepositions. I did not have the cinematic background to the Blues Brothers, so I did not know  all the appropriate quotes! Was it ‘of’ or ‘to’ or ‘from’ open? Alan looked at me as if I were from outer space. The quote is ‘We are on a mission from God’ – he said. Well, the poster said ‘of’ and I thought it should be ‘to’. We agreed to go with the poster as we did not want to edit it yet again. 

A big thank you to @digisim for a great photo.


There were other photos and we had a lovely time role playing a traditional business meeting with me as the mean boss. You had to be there.  But here is the presentation we did not use. It was designed to be as boring as we could muster to contrast with our actual talk.

If you want to read the paper you can download it from my Mendeley account. There is much I learnt and much I could say (as ever) but I want to focus the rest of  this post on how DS106 can go to work and make it better.

First the presentation. I have done many presentations for my corporate consulting work and for other academic conferences. Mostly using snazzier, perhaps more creative, presentations like the one above. This experience was different. DS106 gave us (me?) permission to be silly and tell a story. Yet the story we told was deadly serious. 

We included the audience in our ‘meeting’ and it was a conversation rather than a presentation. The content was about how one person in one small area of a large organisation is bringing DS106 behind the corporate firewall. 

As a organisational and people development specialist, I cannot stress enough the potential I see in this small ‘experiment’. We have evolved a model for developing people in organisations that uses internal employees rather than consultants and that has the potential to bring the whole of the open educational web into any organisation that sees the potential. I see that when Jim Groom and Martha Burtis talk about the 3 faces of open they have given us a distinction that could change organisational development for good. We can develop open pedagogy and open community behind the corporate firewall, yet it is entirely appropriate for us not to have open technology in corporations. This led us to speak of ‘the open organisational web’ and to the creation of an expert lynchpin to act as network connector between the corporation (3M) and the part of the open web that is DS106. Rochelle has excelled in this role she chose to call the Patroness of the Salon as a homage to early open education.

The experiment is being extended for another year at 3M and I am now interested in exploring how a model like this could be generalised to support learning and development in other organisations. I see myself as a coach to other internal employees who may want to take on Rochelle’s role but may not have the ability to live and learn in the open web. Looking to some of my corporate clients interested in experimenting as I write. 

The presentation went really well, people had fun and we interacted around serious issues in a relaxed way. When I next coach one of my clients to give that all important presentation to their executive, I will introduce digital storytelling into the process as well as the psychology of communication. I cannot wait. 

Next is what I personally learnt. I learnt how my own assumptions about what it means to be a serious academic can be successfully challenged. Hell, never again will I equate knowing my stuff with being boring as hell. Taking time to tell my audience stuff they can read in the paper to impress them is really not necessary. People prefer to be included in a conversation than deafened with me on permanent send.

DS106 #4life indeed. Both at home and at work. Thank you Alan and Rochelle – it has been a joy to learn about online collaboration with the both of you. You have given me a best case example of what is possible. The how of that, will be for another time.U


We did a show on DS106 Radio talking about the experience of DS106 goes to OER14. You can listen on Edu Talk.

Rochelle wrote about the desirable (?) difficulties of referencing for her first academic paper manually and the late discovery of technology to help this process. 

Alan has written a  balanced account of the presentation exploring the Blues Brothers theme and the more technical sides of the presentation.