Mashing Up the Open Education Conference

This is the fourth consecutive year I have headed to Utah, attending an event that has evolved into the Open Education Conference, a wonderful mix of open source developers, open content evangelists, and social software enthusiasts — all dedicated to the concept of open education in its many forms. The past couple years have been among the most rewarding events I’ve ever attended, and longtime readers of this blog will recall previous raves and deranged huzzahs. Judging by this year’s program, I once again expect to learn a lot and enjoy some big time fun.

Just as an aside, the schwag for this event are a t-shirt and a reusable water bottle — and no tote bag! So the organization of the conference is as much in line with my values as the topics are. Well, yoga sessions would be nice, and we’ll see if I can go three days without a run-in with the conference chicken

In addition to seeing a bunch of good friends, and relishing the talented and idealistic crowd that this event attracts, what I enjoy about coming here is the opportunity — nay, the expectation — to deliver a talk that goes off the rails as wildly as I dare. This year, my working title is “DIY Educators Gone Wild: Where are the Educational Mashups?” And I’ll be talking… about… uhhh…

When I mentioned I would be speaking on this topic to D’Arcy in an IM session some time back, acknowledging my shameful lack of expertise, he responded — with that characteristic blend of understanding and mockery he often tosses my way — “well, I guess we’ll see a cry for help blog post and an empty wiki page soon.” But I’ve gone down that road as often as I can reasonably expect. Instead, I’m going to try and reuse the model (and some of the content) of a keynote I did with Alan last May. Essentially, the idea is to stock a account with relevant items, and then improvise the actual discussion/presentation off of the tagcloud that results.

I have three major themes relating to mashups: mashed-up works (like songs, videos, texts, etc..); mashed-up applications and APIs; and mashed-up narratives — which strictly speaking are not usually thought of as mashups, but I want an excuse to talk about alternate reality games and other models that explore disaggregated and iterative content structures… I’ll do my best to feature educational examples, and generate discussion on how this approach might fare in higher education. And of course I’ll be looking out for an excuse to flog the new version of aggRSSive.

If you have resources, articles, blog posts, or favorite mashups feel free to pass them on. If you use, try out the for:tag — my username for this event is DIYGoneWild… or simply add some links in the comments field below, or post something on your blog with a link back to this post.

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About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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7 Responses to Mashing Up the Open Education Conference

  1. Scott Leslie says:

    The universe is messing with my head again; this morning I thought to myself, “gee, Brian’s got that session in Utah real soon, wonder how he’s doing, I should probably mine my links for some mashup examples to send him” and got some together but then promptly was deluged/ran-madly-off-in-10-other-directions. Not that I thought you needed the help or anything. That mashup+education search ( does remarkably well (and got the ones I was going to send), though I’m still interested to find the “educational mashups wiki page” whenever someone creates it. Good luck, am jealous I can’t be there. Cheers, Scott

  2. Brian says:

    I should have mentioned in my post that some months ago Scott and I talked about doing a collaborative presentation on something like this subject — except what we were talking about doing was waaayy more whacked out than what I intend to do tomorrow. I totally screwed up the logistics in the run-up to the event — so yeah Scott I really wish you were here too.

    But thanks for the good thoughts, and that post of yours I link to above was very useful to me as I began to think this subject through.

  3. Susan Cline says:

    Whenever I hear the term “mashups” I can’t stop myself from referring people to DJ Adrian – throws a monthly mash-up party in San Francisco. His site is Although these are strictly song mash-ups and I know you are concentrating on mashups for the purpose of education I think it’s still great to see an example of “the best”.

    Do you or your readers ever think that the popularity of the mash-up innovations may be driven by the fact that young people today are so over stimulated with information that we can’t even take our songs, maps, programs one at a time but instead have to mash them together for the biggest bang? Just a thought….

  4. Brian says:

    Susan — that party looks fun, thanks for the link.

    I hadn’t thought of your theory before, but the notion of recombinant information as a tonic to overload is worth pondering. Certainly in the case of an application like aligning Craiglist rental vacancies with Google Maps is a clear win in terms of efficiency.

    Though speaking for myself, the preponderance of mashups just makes me even dizzier with stuff to keep up with — but maybe that’s just a hangover from preparing for this presentation!

  5. John Saremba says:

    I had the pleasure of attending a recent presentation at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC at which Brian presented information about the value of blogs and wikis. I quite enjoyed the wealth of insights and information passed along by Brian at that workshop. So it is with pleasure that I begin reading, on a regular basis, this interesting and informative blog. Sincerely, John “The Information Guy” Saremba.

  6. Brian Powell says:

    Brian, I’ll take the tote bag. I use them for grocery shopping. Why use flimsy plastic bags?
    By the way, great links on open learning content – especially the latest link to Educause.

  7. Brian says:

    Brian — great to see you blogging!

    And the thing with those tote bags, they are usually so poorly shaped that they are almost useless for anything but conference schwag.

    An exception to this is an old bag from the Merlot conference back in 2003 — my friends and I are still using it as a gym bag. Very useful

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