School of Open Day 3: In which we vanquish the thronging hordes of post-it invaders, and begin to make sense.

Ducks in a row by Jonathan Caves

Today we finally imposed some order on the many levels of thinking we’ve been doing since Monday, which meant yet more time with the pink and green post-it notes. While our goal for much of this work was to create a lovely skills map like the School of Data has, we realized that isn’t the right approach for the School of Open due to the broad reach and more conceptual nature of much of the content. However, our paper cuts were not in vain: we now have a conceptual framework for the School of Open, along with a sense of what kinds of courses fit into the school and what subject areas we think it should cover.

Tomorrow’s plan is figuring out how to communicate all this clearly and effectively; for now, I’m just going to muddle through. Basically, we have defined “open practices” as

  • reusing and building on content and tools
  • enabling others to reuse and build on content and tools
  • facilitating sharing and distribution of content and tools
  • supporting transparency of processes, governance, and systems

The School of Open can help people do the things they want to do in a more open way. Those things can be anything from teaching and learning to measuring, governing, or collecting. We’re focusing on four (overarching) domains – education, research, culture, and government – but hope to make the School of Open flexible enough to serve people in a broad range of fields and contexts.

We also spent some time today developing some theoretical users of the School of Open, identifying the kinds of questions they might want to answer, describing their work and the challenges they face, always with a focus on actions and doing. Tomorrow we’re planning to flesh out these personas more fully, and figure out how to communicate all this work more clearly, especially for participants in the School of Open sprint next Tuesday.

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