[ECAR 2007 Winter] Peter Scott – Knowledge Media for Live and Online Open Learning


Peter is Director of the Knowledge Media Institute and Centre for New Media at the Open University in the UK.

There was a time when we thought we could stick knowledge in a box and students would like that – annotated video, navigation based on questions, etc – classic stuff, old fashioned and boring.

Then we thought doing it live was the ticket – webcasting to people in the field, text chats, etc. About ten years old – another example of things that don’t work.

Virtual graduation ceremony – Peter’s office ran it in 2000 as an experiment, helped the graduation office run it, stood behind them offering it in 2001 and 2002, and then turned it over for them to run it in 2003 – and they didn’t.

Examples of heroic failures – things that don’t work, but the technology works fine and it seems that they should work. The big question is how does it fit into our business and make it better? If it doesn’t, it’s a failure.

His main motto – let’s try to make life hard for our students and make them work for it – creatively, genuinely hard.

Open University – distance learning – students are terrifically motivated, but they lack time.


Will give you a rating of how connected you are.

One of the things they do for the University is Foresight – looking forward for the next year, Gives them the opportunity to be provocative and tell people what they should care about. If it doesn’t make a difference in the next three years, we shouldn’t be bothering. Top 3 this year are ubiquity, syndication, and collaboraiton. Immersive VR is at the bottom.

Something that doesn’t suck, but could – Twitter: Manual Telepathy.

openlearn – where you can play with their stuff. What’s cool is the UI and what you can do with it. All open source, CC licensed.

Compendium – lets you draw visualizations and share them (mind maps).

IM component.

A flash meeting component. Trying not to recreate events that suck. For example – they don’t allow people to talk over each other in the tool. Users hate it – and that’s good. Sales slogan – “this is much worse than WebEx” All events are stored and reusable. Shows analysis of meetings, which Peter’s now using to try to help people understand how bad their meetings are.

All this stuff is plugged into Moodle – (“which sucks, but it sucks less than the other stuff in this space and we’re going to make it less sucky”).

Ambient video – users hate having a camera on all the time – but they’ve used it daily for four years in their office. The main failures are business communities that don’t want to talk to each other, even when they say they really do.

SImple / Powerful workflows are sustainable…

Peer power is undervalued…

Peer critique is next up…

Knowledge work analysis is the future…

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