Q and A with Mary Lou Forward

This is the full Q and A with Mary Lou Forward from OCWC – the edited blogpost is available at http://www.drumbeat.org/drumbeat_festival_2010

What are you going to do in Barcelona?

Really looking forward to both Drumbeat and OpenEd. They are both pulling together great minds to explore what openness means in education. This is a great opportunity to pull back from dat to day responsibilities and reflect on the direction of the movement as a whole. There are a number of appealing presentations at OpenEd, and the activities at Drumbeat are amazing. Having spaces for collaborative creativity around learning and the web is a great idea. I really can’t wait to see what we all come up with during the festival.


Who are you most excited to meet up with in Barcelona?

So many interesting people are coming! I’m most looking forward to discussions with anyone and everyone interested in how openness is changing/improving/affecting education. The Drumbeat Festival is providing a venue for discussions and creativity, so I’m hoping to meet lots of people I don’t know yet.


What do you think is the most exciting thing happening today w/ learning and the web?

There are so many exciting projects, it’s hard to even begin a list. Overall, I think the most exciting thing is the way that people are approaching education, both teaching and learning. The web provides a platform to create new learning experiences, from both the educator’s and learner’s perspectives. You can find information, share knowledge, meet others virtually to create shared learning experiences, link traditional educational experiences to other groups or new activities, supplement other learning experiences, solve problems and address issues. People’s willingness to help each other gain knowledge is quite astounding, whether through posting educational resources, offering advice, linking up for peer tutoring, answering questions, etc.


What are your expectations of the Festival given its somewhat unique approach?

Connections, collaboration, ideas. I hope the festival atmosphere will mean that people are relaxed and won’t hang back from contributing any idea. The great thing about working in this movement is that people genuinely want to collaborate; its not just a buzzword. Sharing ideas and building on what others are doing is de rigueur, which allows for all kinds of unexpected outcomes. I’m kind of thinking of this as a giant chemistry experiment, where we’ll start with different atoms and elements and come away with some surprising new molecules.

What have been your highlights in your time as exec Director at the OCWC

Every day I learn something new. There are so many people doing such interesting things. Overall, I’ve been amazed, impressed and grateful for the degree to which people are committed to openness in this movement. The possibilities that this attitude lends to our collective ability to affect real change is definitely the highlight.

What does the term ‘open web’ mean to you?

A level playing field. It’s a forum where anyone can build, sculpt and create learning experiences for themselves and for others. Traditional barriers like geography are broken down, though there are still barriers to full participation, including global economic inequalities and internet access issues. We need to be mindful of all the benefits and limitations as we work towards full openness.

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