This *really* is edupunk. Really. The world is in the turlet and we’re all gonna die…

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, originally uploaded by glynnish.

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s a fairly tried and true structure for a collaborative hands-on exercise. Get a bunch of people to contribute little bits, then try to make it come together into some kind of cool sharable artifact in the end. When it doesn’t work, it’s a spectacular flameout, and man, have I been there when the wreckage hits the ground. But when it works… I have fond memories of the Small Pieces exercise with D’Arcy and Alan (and so many others) way back in the olden days, or the time I turned a pathetic cry for help into a pretty successful (it was fun to do, anyway) public lecture with a lot of help with my friends

A couple weeks back WFMU DJ Tom Scharpling used a similar formula for his weekly three hour radio show. He threw open the phone lines to his listeners, urging them to contribute lyrics for a collaboratively-written song that was to be recorded before the show ended by indie rocker Ted Leo.

If you want to listen, the exercise begins at 15:00 into the show and goes for nearly 90 minutes of what is, for most people, up-and-down radio (though I dig it Big Time)… the song itself gets unveiled at 2 hours, 39 minutes.

RealAudio link

As the show unfolds, it seems to have all the hallmarks of a trainwreck in the making. Most of the lyrical offerings seem awful… and Tom’s usual equilibrium between mocking and encouraging his callers definitely starts to tilt to the dark side, though the thing definitely gains momentum… Ted and the Pharmacists really nail this one. Ted takes the words that were largely shaped by Tom, whips up riffs and arrangement, records it, masters it and gets it back to Tom less than an hour later. Phenomenal. The song kicks. And the crowd goes wild

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From what I’ve read of the many blog posts about Edupunk (and I do feel morbidly compelled to read every single post that’s been flagged by a Google alert), I gather that I’m now supposed to distill and articulate a Clear Learnucational Principle (CLP) on how these observations can be directly applied in any classroom, by anyone. How’s this… You can have a half-baked activity, and uneven participation, but with a smart, funny, not necessarily patient and supportive facilitator (Tom) and a powerful synthetic force blessed with genius (Ted) you can still create something beautiful. And loud.

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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3 Responses to This *really* is edupunk. Really. The world is in the turlet and we’re all gonna die…

  1. Oh… I’ll listen to the entire thing soon. But I already know I’ve got to try something this in a classroom with a bunch of students to create something beautiful (and maybe even loud) about learning. I don’t know what or when or how, but mark my words, I will.

  2. John Zurovchak says:


    The World is in the Turlet….What a hilarious episode with contributions from everyone on the show. Google “The World is in the Turlet” and laugh at what comes up. There is even a proposed albumb cover here:

    Thanks for the laugh Brian.


  3. Shannon says:

    What a great song, Tom Scharpling’s show really is the Best Show on WFMU.
    The last line of your post just hits the nail on the head. Creation is messy and there is not one right recipe. Students still need professors who have more experience to help them pull threads together. And professors need students who have a different and maybe even crazy perspective.
    All I have to say is amen brother, amen!

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