#dlrn — indie edtech — punk

There’s been a bit of a jam going on, interpreting the riffs created by Jim Groom and Adam Croom (is the poetry why these guys got together in the first place? I’d like to think that) at #dlrn. Doug Belshaw, Greg McVerry and several followers of #dlrn15 and #indieedtech joining in.

It’s Sunday here, raining steadily outside so instead of that hike I’d promised myself I have been inspired by Adam to watch the BBC’s Music for Misfits: the Story of Indie in three parts. It’s been helpful, partly because I was able to get to grips with my niggling discomfort with Adam’s USA centric presentation of Indie music; it turns out the UK and USA stories are very different. Jim and punk, well that’s another story — punk was all about DIY — fashion, art, as well as music and even enterprise which eventually killed it. So these guys were conflating edupunk and indie edtech and all I kept coming back to was the phrase “long tail of edtech” and even Minds On Fire (Seeley Brown and Adler 2008). No mistake, I loved the #dlrn15 presentation and was carried away by their brilliant and stimulating analogies, but I was wondering where all the other genres, the little guys, fit in, you know, like _____ (insert own preferred genre) jazz?

One of the things that the BBC programme didn’t make clear about the 80s indie scene in the UK was that it was funded, for distribution purposes, by the huge companies — EMI — Heavenly, Sony — Creation. The Indie scene changed and is still changing, but don’t we still need people to discover the quality. Is this is a bit like VC or HE funding the thinkers and dreamers Mike Caulfield mentioned during the final #dlrn session? I had forgotten that entrepreneurial part of the tale, instead remembering the earlier 70s indie story as being one of self-publishing and distribution (Zoo Records), which did resonate more closely with Jim and Adam’s narrative.

I was reminding myself about edupunk and it became clearer why Mike Caulfield asserted that edtech was stuck in 2008; possibly the statement that kicked me in the gut harder than any other during #dlrn. Jim first coined edupunk in 2008, the Minds on Fire article was published in 2008, MOOCs erupted 2008, but does that really mean that there have been no new edtech ideas, or is it something else? What else is Mike thinking of? I resisted Mike’s statement which has kept echoing around my brain; selfishly personal because I don’t want to feel that now, when I finally have some time and space to think, write, connect about edtech rather than adopt, teach and fight for it, there isn’t anything new to think about. Really? No, I just don’t and will not accept that. It’s why I keep listening out for new voices in music — I don’t care about the big genres, any genre will do, just let me hear something that moves me or gets me moving. Like 3 For Silver (genre = anti-Americana), playing at the harvest festival in Camas a couple of weeks ago. First I saw the bass… DIY’d out of a galvanised wash tub and then I heard the guy sing, this band were so brilliant even my metal head partner (Metallica fan) was dancing rather than head-banging. The point is that we are free to choose.

Perhaps the big idea side of edtech has slowed down (too much money embedded in the body not enough in the long tail), but perhaps it just means we now have to play the music; we have to use the ideas and technologies to educate, to reach the promise that many of us embraced edtech for in the first place. To fund the long tail with our time and energy. To turn our thinking onto the pedagogy, on using the tech, improving the tech, in order to spread education, openly beyond the cultural silos of the English-speaking nations, so abundantly represented at #dlrn.