#ioe12 Coffee Breaks with a Little Open Licensing Thrown In

Doing an online learning course is just like being at school….I’m playing catch up already! Actually I was pretty good at school, it’s just now that life gets in the way!

I have finally worked my way through (most of the) the first module on Open Licensing and will share some thoughts on it in this post, but first I wanted to tell you about my #ioe12 coffee break! (I know, I’ve started with the coffee break rather than the learning – making sure I get my priorities right!)

#ioe12 Coffee Break

Some colleagues at the University of Bath are also taking part in MOOCs and early this week, at the suggestion of Jez Cope we met up for a “#ioe12 tea break” (naturally I had a coffee). Jez, an ICT Project Manager from the Chemistry department, and I have both registered for the Introduction to Openness in Education course while Marie Slater and Julian Prior from the e-learning team have signed up for the Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2012 Syllabus offered by the Society for Learning Analytics Research.

We started off by comparing the 2 courses. The lak12 course looks a little more structured than the ioe12 one. It is divided up into weeks and specific dates are given for each week. At the moment only week 1 is available. There are also introductory notes for each week and explanations for the resources listed. The ioe12 course takes a more “in at the deep end” approach and I think I might have struggled with some of the first topic resources if I hadn’t had a reasonable back ground in the area already. There was no overview of what the resources were or the angle they were coming from. It was very much up to us to decide what we made of them and whether we agreed with them. I guess it’s a good lesson in the Internet generally – every Web resource has an agenda, does this one align with yours?

All 4 of us at the #ioe12 coffee break were already struggling to spend time on the course. Julian admitted having started a MOOC before and doing nothing for it bar signing up on the registration page. We all agreed that you get out of it what you put in and it’s very much up to you how much work you want to do. If nothing else, an online course offers links to excellent resources, almost like a topic driven filter of your rss feed or Twitter stream. Julian and Marie had signed up for their course at the recommendation of their line manager. Jez and I were doing the course as a form of CPD (continuing professional development) and largely in our own time. I wonder which of us will get the most done?

So coffee and tea break over here are my (brief) thoughts on open licensing.

Open Licensing

The resources given in the first topic were collectively in support of sharing and putting works into the public domain. Jez has written a really good overview of the concepts explored and I really don’t want to out do him ;-). A few thoughts…I read Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity by Lawrence Lessig many years ago and I really liked his ideas around our need to understand free as a part of our cultural ecology. Much of what he says is very US centric (though the Copyright Term Extension Act did mean that both the US and UK now have the same copyright terms of life + 70 years) but some of ideas have really concreted my feelings in this area. For example:

  • Copyright policy is not just about enabling commercial success but is about what level of control we are going to exercise over public reality.
  • Intellectual property and physical property are very different.
  • Over zealous copyright stifles creativity and innovation. Creation always involves building upon something else.
  • Ideas are non-rivalrous – people can’t use them up by using them.
  • Piracy is complex.
  • Openness is a commitment to a set of values
  • The ‘public good’ is not something that can only be measured by profit.

I have to admit I didn’t read the two papers by Rufus Pollock, they were both pretty lengthy and not particularly recent. I’ve bookmarked them and will take a look at them on a lengthy journey sometime soon. I had a look round his Web site instead. Rufus Pollock is the founder the Open Knowledge Foundation and their ideology is definitely one to be noted (the promotion of open knowledge leading to better governance, culture, research and economies). I felt that some of his comments on his blog didn’t necessarily align with where the Open Knowledge Foundation seems to be now. e.g .“This is because our philosophy is that what is important is CONTENT. It is NOT about the fancy bells and whistles, the flash plug-ins, and all the other meretricious tartuffery of the modern web” . For reference a tartuffe is a hypocrite who pretends to religious piety. Maybe the commercial Web fits this description but the Web in which I work doesn’t. Maybe I don’t get it, but I quite like the modern Web. Am I going off topic?

Before I go here are a few other blog posts that do a much better job at distilling the first topic:

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Staying Connected in a Big Remote Worker World

As remote working becomes more usual I’ve started to notice a few more people like me: people who work from home or outside the office and who blog about their experiences. One such person is Doug Campbell who shares his thoughts on the Remote Worker Daily blog. You can follow Doug on Twitter at @dailyremotework or email him at remoteworkerdaily@gmail.com.

Doug has written a guest blog post on Staying Connected in a Big Remote Worker World – Family and Friends versus Work and Business – My Approach.

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My name is Doug Campbell. In addition to writing for my blog, Remote Worker Daily, which I write remotely and to which I have posted to from around the world, I work a full time job as a technology consultant in the metro Washington, DC area where I work remotely part of the week.

My current client is fully remote, located in three separate cities across the United States. In my spare time, I am a part-time freelance consultant in the Enterprise Document Management space, which is also fully remote. My current freelance client is located in the UK.

In past jobs, I have worked with remote teams in India, Europe, and Canada on software development projects. I have also worked longer term fully remote while on vacation in Canada and South America.
I have been involved in some level or degree of remote work for almost 14 years.

The first challenge is staying connected.

As you can imagine, staying connected with all of these different teams in different countries, cultures, and time zones has provided an interesting challenge, and I haven’t even mentioned my family, located a thousand miles away.
So how do I stay connected in this big remote worker world? I have one approach for work and business, and a different approach for family and friends.

The second challenge is effectively drawing the line to keep family and friends separate from work and business.

Let’s start the discussion of what I call the “firewall to my personal life”. I have separate approaches to work and business connectedness than I do to family and friends for several reasons;

  1. Privacy – I don’t necessarily share my weekend photos from the pub with my clients.
  2. Safety – As Remote Worker Daily grows, so does the possibility of running into the occasional weirdo, stalker, angry reader, or identity thief.
  3. Peace of mind – I also like to keep work and business separate from friends and family.

I find this works well for me, but some people effectively mix work and pleasure.

How I stay connected with work and business

  1. Dell laptop – for all writing and work related software.
  2. Apple iPhone 4S – I use this phone for everything from internet browsing to video-conference to email to phone calls.
  3. LinkedIn – keep an extensive professional network.
  4. Facebook – a separate account for Remote Worker Daily.
  5. Email – a separate account for Remote Worker Daily, remoteworkerdaily@gmail.com
  6. Twitter – used for Remoter Worker Daily @dailyremotework
  7. GoToMeeting – affordable and reliable video conferencing.

Quick Tips:

  1. Set expectations with employers, colleagues and clients on agreed upon work days and times, preferred communication channels, and frequency of communication.
  2. Cheap isn’t always better, make sure you have a good quality, reliable connection.
  3. Keep it professional. It’s easy to accidentally let your guard down when working at home in your pajamas.

How I stay connected with family and friends

I have been fully utilizing technology to cost-effectively keep in touch with friends and family (who are currently spread out in Canada and South America) whether I am home in the United States, travelling for fun, or vacationing. I have always been able to find free or affordable internet access wherever I travel.

The list of technology and tools that works well for me:

  1. Dell laptop – for all writing and work related software.
  2. Apple iPhone 4S – I use this phone for everything from internet browsing to video-conference to email to phone calls.
  3. Skype – I regularly video-conference with family and friends.
  4. Vonage – for home telephone and long distance. They have a very affordable world plan. I also use their iPhone application.
  5. Facebook – my personal account, I regularly update throughout the day.
  6. Twitter – My personal account.
  7. Email – Personal email account.

Quick Tips:

  1. Be sensitive to time zones. I learned this the hard way when I accidentally called my brother at 3 AM in his local time from China, which was an 11 hour time difference.
  2. Be sensitive to technology preferences. Skype video-conferencing works great with my brother, but it has to be a telephone call with my parents.
  3. If you wouldn’t want your boss, mother, and priest to see it, don’t send it via Twitter or post it publically on Facebook. And yes, many employers and recruiters do research employees or future employee’s public social media profiles.

Conclusion

Keeping connected with work and business, and family and friends should be guided first and foremost by common sense, and secondly by putting yourself in their shoes before acting.

IOE12, MOOCs and Vegetarianism

I’ve been writing this blog for quite a while now (3 years 4 months) and recently I’ve struggled a little with content. During the blog’s life I’ve covered many of the challenges related to remote working and, although issues still arise, for me remote working has become almost too normal to blog about. It’s a little like being a vegetarian – which I am – when you become one you talk about it a lot (the why, the how, the challenges, the opportunities), but over the years it’s just the way you live your life. Sometimes you just need a new angle, or maybe a new recipe. For a while I’ve tried out the ‘amplified event recipe’ and have posted about relevant tools and practices. As it is new year I’d like to try out something different…

I’m going to give online learning a go.

The Introduction to Openness in Education course #ioe12 is what is know as a Massively Open Online Course or MOOC. The Educause paper 7 Things you should know about MOOCs provides an excellent introduction to the concept but to summarise:

A massively open online course (MOOC) is a model for delivering learning content online to virtually any person—with no limit on attendance—who wants to take the course.

I’ve decided that I am going to participate in the Introduction to Openness in Education MOOC and blog about 1) what I learn and 2) my experience in taking part on the course. My plan is to take this course outside of work time and to write a blog post on each of the topic areas:

  • Open Licensing
  • Open Source
  • Open Content
  • Open CourseWare
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Open Access
  • Open Science
  • Open Data
  • Open Teaching
  • Open Assessment
  • Open Business Models
  • Open Policy

I know a little about most of the topics areas already but I’m hoping that the course will allow me to find out more about them and also clarify how I actually feel about openness in education. I’m also hoping that being open about what I’m doing will encourage me to complete all the topics and earn, at the very least, an OpenEd Overview (Novice level) badge. I think a few of my colleagues from the University of Bath are also going to attempt the course so there should be a support network there for me too.

To get started I have signed up to the participants page and intend to start working my way through the course as soon as possible. I’m not sure how long it will take, I’ll just have to give it a go.

I’ll still be writing about my usual topics but hopefully this approach will add some much needed freshness to this blog!

Weather the Weather

So what completely screws up your day if you are a home worker? Coughing cat? Lack of decent heating? Constant knocks at the door from door-to-door sales people? Bad broadband?

Well “all of the above” if you are me, but the latter can make working near on impossible.

Since I moved house (to an area slightly outside of the main town) my broadband hasn’t been great but turning the router on and off usually kick starts things. However this week hasn’t been lousy and the down time is becoming a bit of an issue.

I’m blaming the weather! It’s causing chaos!

It’s true that the weather can have an effect on speeds. The Sky Web site states that “Exceptionally hot or cold weather can affect the speed of your broadband. On particularly hot or cold days you may notice an effect on your broadband speeds.” Freezing temperatures can result cable lines freezing over over so badly as that they cannot operate as expected. Blown over telegraph poles can also be problematic. Snow can be a problem too and can cause slower or dropping connections due to moisture creeping into the wiring joints. As it’s harder to get about in extreme weather it can also increase the time it takes engineers to fix problems.

The other issue is that when the weather is bad more people work from home (or stay off work) which means that there is an increase on usual internet traffic. It’s all those people snuggled up on the sofa watching BBC iplayer!

Of course things could be worse and you could lose heating or power. Now that really would be a problem!!

Sky give some advice on dealing with slow broadband speeds.

The first step is closing and restarting your browser, then you can try switching your router on and off and your entire machine on and off. Other approaches you can take include unplugging all connections, making sure all devices (such as laptops, games consoles) are logged off the wireless, checking your hardware set up and changing your router settings.

As a last resort you could contact your service provider and/or phone company. Good luck with that!

According to the BBC Weather site the gales are slowly easing so fingers crossed things will be back to normal soon.

London Green Hackathon

Is your New Year’s resolution to do something good in 2012?

Why not go along to the London Green Hackathon at University College London, 28 – 29 January 2012. They are offering a weekend of hacking on climate change, sustainability, energy and carbon emissions.

The free tickets went really fast but 50 more have now become available, so don’t waste any time!

Meet great developers and sustainability experts as we help out our planet with some innovative hacks. Come along, solve problems, and invent new ideas and applications that help address climate change.

The events are part of a European series of Greenhackathons organised by AMEE, who aggregate and automate access to the world’s environmental and energy information.

You can follow the event on Twitter on @ameedev and @greenhackathon and see who is attending on Lanyrd.

2012 – The Year to Work from Home?

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year. I certainly did!

So will 2012 be any different to 2011 when it comes to remote working? Well there is one big event that could have significant impact on the way people work….the 2012 Olympics.

Although the government have been working for some time on a transport strategy for the olympic games and the paralympics, which will take place in from July to September this year, gridlock is still predicted in the capital.

A report by the London Assembly’s transport committee published last year stated that travel problems were one of the biggest risks to London 2012, with extra traffic piling “extreme demand on a network already creaking at the seams“. Londoners currently spend an average of up to two hours per day on public transport and Transport for London estimates there will be an extra three million journeys a day on public transport during the games. Those working in the capital could find the summer months pose a real challenge to ‘just getting in to work’.

It has been recommended that businesses provide facilities for staff to work from home or use conference call facilities. However according to new research last week from global print solutions provider, Lexmark, almost two thirds of small and medium businesses across the UK do not currently have a flexible or remote working policy in place.

The survey revealed that just one in five of respondents’ organisations have plans to introduce a policy before the start of the London Olympics next year, despite the significant demand from workers for increased flexibility during the 17-day event.

So will 2012 really become the year of remote working? If businesses have any sense it will be…