Everything Unplugged

Saul Albert on the University of Openess, peer education and research

Wednesday, 9th February 2011 at 10:30am - 12:30pm

Location: Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

This event is in the past.

This week 
Saul Albert, currently of The People Speak and PhD student at Queen Mary University London, will kick off a discussion about his experiences of peer education, which he describes thus:

During the late 90's convergence of DIY culture, Free Software and ubiquitous network technology, I helped to start the University of Openess, a 'self-institution for peer education and research'.

It started with Ian Morrison's 'Faculty Unix' weekly workshop at Limehouse Town Hall, inducting students in the magic of the command line and grew from there into a vibrant network of learning and exchange in countless 'faculties' peaking at the World Summit on Free Information Infrastructures (WSFII) in 2005/6.

The idea of 'self-institution' I inherited was a rich one, derived from many artistic/cultural sources (situationism, net.art/culture, and more immediately the Copenhagen Free University/InfoCentre), The Association of Autonomous 
Astronauts to name a few (google them!).

Combined with engineering culture and its communication tools (such as wikis), this context soon developed into a large 'sisterhood' of 'Free Universities', each with very different economies, practices and terms of self-definition.

I can talk briefly about some of the 'research' activities and outputs from this experiment, and will appreciate the opportunity to talk to others about where these kinds of efforts are now, and what they mean today.

On a side note, I have since tried out several other organisational forms such as 'business' and 'family', and have just entered the belly of the formal education beast, starting a PhD in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Queen Mary University London

10.30 informal discussion/introductions, 11.00ish we convene for 'business'. By tradition, we take a while to warm up and then overrun because discussion is really cooking by 12.30 (that's just by way of expectation-setting; it's not a rule or a prescription).

We are a self-organised group. Things we aspire to do include: 

  • guest-led discussions — do you know someone who's doing something interesting in learning who could kick off a discussion 
  • group interviews — would you like to lead an interview of a guest, or of a regular participant, with others chipping into the discussion 
  • review resources and case studies — have you got any interesting learning stories or materials that we could pick apart to see how they work, and who they work for? 
  • explore and solve problems — or have you got a worthwhile learning problem that we can chew over in search of a solution? 
  • lightweight projects — what ideas do you have for things we could do together, within or beyond meetings, involving fun, improvisation, humour? 

Background links: 

School of Everything Unplugged  The Learning Co-op  Agile Learning 

If you'd like to be involved, but are not within reach of London or can't make it for other reasons, you can still let us know what you'd like to see in the future, including online activities. The best way to do this is to complete the Agile Learning survey. Or you can just post a comment below.

Education - Study Group
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contact@alchemi.co.uk, 07899 791419


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