Open learning, Open Access, and the Digital Divide

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— sava (@savasavasava) April 24, 2014

The first day of the conference I was on a panel with Christina Davidson, Elizabeth Pitts, Barry Peddycord IIIJennifer Stratton, and Kaysi Holman. While Christina, Elizabeth, and Barry discussed how the book we wrote together helps understand various aspects of open learning, Kaysi and I decided to do an experiment/workshop to help bring the other talks to life in a different way. If you haven’t read the book it is available on HASTACRap Genius, and Amazon)

EXPERIMENT/WORKSHOP: Know Your Place, A Learning Game About Communicating knowledge

Conceived by Jade E. Davis & Kaysi Holman


  • To Illustrate the principals, issues, concerns and practices raised in the previous talks.
  • To allow players to experience different forms of learning in a time constrained experience.
  • To show the importance and place of open learning (loosely defined) To give players an experience that amplify learning constraints that are often taken for granted.

The Game

One of the things that is great about having a conference in a place where most people haven’t been but many people are from is that we get to experience new things. Because it is new to many, most of us don’t know where to go. We are having #HASTAC2014 in the amazing Ministerio de Cultura here in Peru. And there is a lot here. Like any good traveller I bought a travel book BUT I was also lucky enough to have a private tour. Kaysi made the excellent point that we often have lots of information and know how to get it. My pushback was many of those activities don’t happen in traditional classroom spaces.

The Question: What other interesting buildings and spaces are near where we are now? The Rules

The game needs 3 groups, or 1 group that will go through the 3 modes of communication once.

  • Group 1: Received a (travel) book. They were able to talk to each other but they needed to find the answer in the book.
  • Group 2 (pictured above): Received a sheet of paper with an answer. Only one person saw it. They were to play a game of telephone (their circle is above) where they whispered the response to the person next to them, and were not able to repeat it more than once.
  • Group 3: Able to use their technology devices and speak to each other.


I set them up. It started with Group 1: The book had the National Museum but didn’t say it was located in this specific area and it didn’t have any information on the other buildings and activities in the area. There are a lot. They are all amazing. Group 2: The thing written on their paper was “The answer you are looking for is not in the book. Sorry!” Because, they had the information Group 1 needed. By the time the phrase made it to the end it had only lost the sorry but was otherwise perfect. Group 3: Were the group that had no tools given to them to find the information, but they could use the tools and resources they had.


It worked!! We had an amazing discussion after about the ways these model limits in various forms of knowledge from “find it in a book” (group 1), sage on the stage (group 2, and the 1 way communication model), and the open information open modes non-traditional information attainment. What was interesting is they didn’t use their devices until the last minute.

The ministry of culture has done a wonderful thing and allowed the employees here to come to the sessions. Their group had a woman who was from here and worked here. She was able to share the information, and, apparently they had a wonderful discussion about the things here at this conference location, and in Lima at large. And the discussion afterward, augmented by Barry and Elizabeth and Christina and Jenny getting people to think deeply was friggin’ spectacular.

My Lingering Questions: Openess seems to be a particular American frame work of what the future should look like. Is that the case? What does open look like in various cultural context?

Valid Concerns: On the twitterstream there was a lot of conversation about the role of the “native informer”. Additionally, someone called the telephone game something that today is culturally insensitive (she apologized, but it is the game she played as a child). I wish we had more time to discuss the impact of these dynamics when we take a conference that has been and continues to be so tied to North America to Peru. It does something. As people who are here to think, share, learn, and make together,  this is something we should be discussing too. If I could do it again, I would want to anonymously bring in those twitter comments so that they could be heard, and so we can see if there is a middle ground that allows us to talk outside of the normal frames of power that create the native informer or the invisible history of racism from around the world.