Okay, yes, the name is ridiculous. But I think there’s something in this idea. I want to mashup Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Connectivist MOOC (cMOOC). I have a few topics in mind, but the organizing idea is actually most important to me at this point. The fact that it could be called a “PARC MOOC” makes me think of getting out, being outside, being with others in public, and I think that’s good imagery to start with.
I see Participatory Action Research as a methodology that has ethical implications for research practice. Ethically, it shifts social research from being about other people to research as an everyday practice we do with other people to change the political, social, cultural, and economic circumstances of our lives. It’s not empowering, it’s offering tools to be self-determining. There’s tons of writing that supports this shift on the grounds that it is a kind of research that really respects people. I also added the phrase “everyday practice”, because I think in the world we live in (especially in the West) requires research to skillfully and effectively navigate it. I agree with Arjun Appadurai’s assertion that research can no longer be considered a skill that scholars gain over time, but a right to which we all have access (See Appadurai – the Right to Research). Continue reading →
I’ve been spending little fragments of free time over the last several years engaging with Maker and Open Source communities. For a long time, I’ve seen them as part of claiming a more open, democratic (in real, everyday democracy kind of terms) way of life. The ideas I see behind both movements are: (1) we can build it ourselves, (2) we can do it better when we do it with others, (3) what we share will be multiplied, expanded upon, and will come back to us better than we could have imagined it, and (4) we can invite others to learn and participate.
When I was a teenager, open source was a fledgling movement. You could use Linux, but you really had to be a pretty decent hacker to get things working and keep them that way. Mostly though, you had to pay hundreds of dollars for software like operating systems, media editors, word processors, and so forth. Now, all of it is available for free. And you can edit and modify it to suit your needs. And, better yet, that invitation is no longer an empty one — there are many people making it easier than ever to learn to program.
I’m very inspired by the #FutureOfOpen conference that occurred today in London. It was organized by the group: http://www.oi-london.org.uk/. I love the idea of open sourcing a city and its commons. I especially appreciate the list of Open Domains at the bottom of this page http://www.oi-london.org.uk/what.
I’m working on a piece right now about the interactions between Makers, MOOCs, and learning. I posted on it preliminarily on the July 2 Group blog. It seems as though Open Source is officially moving beyond a movement that is “gaining steam” and has entered the “main stream.”
Social work practice and research are divided, contested spaces. There are many divisions in social work, and in my education at both the masters and Ph.D. level, these divisions occupy an incredible amount of our time and energy. In the arena of practice, we construct arguments between micro and macro practice; between different models of case work, individual, and group therapy. In research, we argue about qualitative and quantitative research, about our values, and about Evidence-Based Practice. In fact, we are so wrapped up in these conversations that I think we often forget (or maybe even choose to forget) that all of these debates are based on a lot of assumptions. We argue about research based on social work values and practitioner’s wisdom versus evidence-based practice, but we forget in both of these frames, social work is still most often about working for people, rather than working with them. Working for is a synonym for “working on behalf of.” It can be seen structurally in the relationship between practitioner and client, where the practitioner is in a position of power over someone else, regardless the ways they attempt to mediate that power in their relationship. Working with is a way of struggling with other members of the human race to create a society that is more just, peaceful, and healthy. This is not simply a distinction between micro and macro level social work. Many community organizers work for people when they go to oppressed communities and try to mobilize them (this is common with union organizers). While some social workers might be comfortable with the idea of working for people, I see working for as another way of living out the hegemony of wealth and social class. I’m not the first to make this argument, in fact it is an argument deeply embedded within the history of the pre-profession and profession of social work (Reisch and Andrews, 2002).