Review of personal learning environment after ‘Why open’

At the beginning of the course, I had a go at planning my personal learning environment: I wrote about places that would help me gather my thoughts and connect with others who are interested in the topic of openness. Now that “Why Open” is nearly over, it’s time to look back at what actually happened.

Reading through what I had in mind a bit over a month ago in terms of learning environment, I find the picture rather close to the reality, except for a few details which I’ll explain here. Additional tools turned out useful as well besides the ones I had initially considered.

What didn’t work so well

I had thought about scheduling a face-to-face meeting with a fellow learner also based in Paris but this unfortunately did not happen. We were both busy and I don’t think she really had much time to delve deeper into the course so the meet-up had to be shelved. This does not mean we won’t discuss openness next time we meet, only that it didn’t happen during the time frame allocated to “Why Open”. The beauty of such a learning endeavour is that it goes well beyond the few weeks devoted to it.

I attempted to participate in 3 Google Hangouts but it’s fair to  say that they weren’t successful. My connection acted up and I wasn’t able to attend efficiently. On one occasion, the discussion was even moved to Twitter due to my connection problems…I said I wasn’t the biggest fan of Google Hangout, now the joke’s on me. Someone remove the curse the spirit of Google has placed on me! [FYI, I’m reading a book on voodoo and it hasn’t helped so far]

What worked as planned (or nearly)

This blog was indeed my central place for reflection, although I have neglected it of late. It was somewhat disappointing that so few people blogged consistently during the 4 weeks of the course. I guess my expectations were too high in this regard. To temper this, I must point out that the contributions (both posts and comments) were of very good quality.

Twitter‘s #whyopen stream was lively, especially during the weekly chat sessions. From my point of view, Twitter and the small groups were the main avenues for getting to know other learners in the course.

What worked better than expected

I quickly took to Delicious, a tool I was experimenting with for this course. It is not as social as I expected it to be (probably because I’ve only joined recently and don’t know many people on the platform yet) but I’ve found it an easy way to store up and organise articles I read online about education. I’ll definitely keep it up.

What I hadn’t thought of but turned out useful

There’s a ridiculously simple tool I hadn’t mentioned in my post on personal learning environment: Etherpads. We used pads to keep up with notes from live sessions, sign up for Hangouts, provide feedback, as well as to brainstorm our group’s activities.

I ended up trying out Audacity to record and edit a short commentary on the pre-course survey results which I uploaded on Soundcloud.

Flickr was always on a tab somewhere, as a source of CC illustrations.

The course is officially over – but for the final projects – but I hope that #whyopen was merely a more intense time in a longer conversation taking place on- and offline.


Getting ready for #whyopen : my personal learning environment

There are only a few days left before the start of #whyopen on P2PU and I am starting to think about the way I want to design my personal learning environment to make the most of the course.

I decided to write this down partly as a note to myself and partly to invite other learners to comment and possibly compare with their own practice of online learning. I’m excited to find out how learning will emerge and what the outcomes will be.

On the personal front, it might be instructive to go back to this post at the end of the course to:

  • check whether I’ve actually used all the tools I intended to and to what extent,
  • list additional tools/networks I had not initially thought of but turned out to be useful,
  • determine how I can keep on sharing with the networks set in motion by this course.

I’m also curious to observe how others use the learning opportunities afforded by the web 2.0. I consider this to be  part of the learning experience : a form of metalearning, if you will!


This blog will be a central place for gathering thoughts on the discussions happening during the course. I hope I’ll manage to produce at least one post a week. Other people’s blogs curated on the bloghub should also be a great source to draw from and build upon.


I already use Twitter quite a lot as a source of links to interesting content as well as a platform to interact with people I know personally. I think the #whyopen Twitter feed will be a good place to chat and share resources.


As much as I like Twitter, information tends to disappear in the backlog after just a few days. Besides, links posted on Twitter are not very easily searchable: that’s why we have curation tools like Storify and Delicious.

I’ve just opened a Delicious account to save links I come across and might want to take up reading later. It’s meant to be an improvement on my current ‘semi-open’ system of organising learning resources.

I would normally find the content through a direct search or thanks to my peer networks, read/view it and then share it on Twitter with relevant hashtags. If it’s really valuable information or too complex to all take in at one go, I’d bookmark the page and/or download the content onto my laptop where I sort my documents in folders.

This system is found lacking in areas which might be improved by Delicious: I can place a document in several folders if it belongs to different topics but it’s certainly not as efficient a method as a tag cloud; There’s little room for systematic interest-based social interactions beyond the immediate discussions arising from the links posted on Twitter. More in-depth conversations happen organically on Facebook from time to time though.

Let’s see if I can include Delicious in my learning routine.

Google Hangout ? In person meet-ups?

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to join all the Google Hangout meet-ups but I’ll probably watch most of them once they are posted on YouTube.

There’s at least one other student here in Paris who’s taking the course. I’m tempted to contact her so we can meet up and chat about ‘Why Open’.

Challenges I hope to overcome

Although I appreciate the potential benefits of posting videos, I still feel a bit apprehensive about putting myself out there via this medium.

My barriers regarding this medium are of two kinds :

  • Technical issues : I know how to record a video on my laptop’s webcam and post it on YouTube or on my blog but editing is still a major challenge. It’s definitely something I consider within my reach, though I tend to relent from spending hours battling with a video editing software until I come up with a satisfactory result.
  • Perceived lack of legitimacy : who am I to speak my mind to the world ? This links back to feeling too shy to speak in front of a learned audience or even just a large gathering. It’s weird to observe how much more comfortable I feel expressing myself in writing.

Maybe I should make this one of my goals for the final project: to record, edit and post my story as a video!

What about you? How are you planning to engage with this course?

“Why Open?” course registration in progress

From August 5th, participants in the “Why Open” course by P2PU are going to explore questions around the meaning and practice of openness. Facilitated by Christina HendricksSimeon Oriko, Jeanette Lee, and Jane Park, this course will include discussions on various platforms and culminate in a final project : a story of openness.

I am happy to be on board for this 4-week intellectual adventure !

Who’s talking?

Online, I am frequently referred to as hardcorekancil (@hardcorekancil), a compound name for hardcore + kancil. This happens to be an oxymoron; if you’ve ever seen a kancil, you know what I’m talking about.

Yeah, I'm hardcore! Photo by B.C. Tørrissen under CC-BY-SA 3.0

Yeah, I’m hardcore! Photo by B.C. Tørrissen under CC-BY-SA 3.0

I have a bit of formal education (B.Sc. Physics, PGDE) but my insatiable curiosity has led me down numerous unexpected paths, usually along the lines of languages + linguistics, education, spirituality, social movements. A far cry from my initial mathematics-oriented university days!

The concept of openness came to my attention through the debates over creative commons vs. copyright which in turn had me discover open educational resources, open knowledge, open science. Now, I can’t stop reading about it! ‘Open’ has entered my realm.

Traces of my writing can be found here (in French) and infrequently here (in English). I also translate for Global Voices Online.

Survey: What does open mean to you?

Even if you’re not intending to take the course, it would be wonderful if you could fill out a short survey about what ‘open’ means to you. The results will be discussed by participants and thus serve to enrich the course material. Make sure you give your 2 cents before Monday 5th August!