An open approach to book writing

I have got a contract to write a book, try current title ‘Designing for learning in an open world’. It’s really a chance for me to consolidate the learning design work that I have been involved in over the last eight years or so, to try and articulate my take on this, locate it to other learning design research and also related fields (such as pedagogical patterns work, instructional design and learning sciences). So far I have been working on it in the background, refining the focus, deciding on the structure and content, doing the necessary broader literature reading to locate the content alongside other work. However I think it’s now time to go a bit more ‘open’ – seems appropriate given the focus of the book! So I am planning to post thoughts, rough drafts, ideas etc. here as I go along. I’ve not done this so explicitly before with a piece of research, certainly not for a relatively large enterprise that is likely to go over a fairly extended amount of time. Sure I have put up ‘ideas in the making’ as blog posts and even drafts of papers, but it will be interesting to see how the articulation of a more substantive set of ideas pans out over time. Goodness only knows what I will make of early postings and drafts and/or even worse what if I end up abandoning the whole enterprise?

I’m not sure yet what format this will take, but my thinking at the moment is to post here reflective thoughts, ideas about structure and order, drafts of writing, emergent questions the work raises, pointers to interesting readings and how I am using them, plus maybe some more general reflections on the process. The reflective blog posts are being aggregated in a Cloudscape on Cloudworks, which will also be a space for discussion and aggregation of related relevant references.  

Have others come across similar open approaches in our field and if so how effective are they? I know that some books have been produced and then ‘opened’ as wikis to invite broader contributions and of course that some commercial writings do keep reflective blogs, although I wonder to what extent these are marketing ploys rather than genuine invites to open up the process and invited broader comment? Of course, dare I say it, there is also the old chestnut about whether we should be publishing in traditional channels at all or simply going straight for completely open publishing routes, I know this is something my colleague Martin Weller feels passionate about.

So I post this first entry on this topic with some trepidation, feels like going into the unknown and a little out of my comfort zone… but hey if we don’t push the boat out occasionally life would be a lot less interesting ;-)

9 Responses to “An open approach to book writing”

  1. Bryan Alexander Says:

    Congratulations on the book contract!

  2. Yishay Mor Says:

    Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing it in print, and openly online :)
    I have some comments to offer, but not sure if I should post them here or on the cloudscape.

  3. Wayne Batchelder Says:

    I have read many of your papers during my dissertation research and as I try to discover how to make the doctorate a new beginning, I look forward to your process as well as the content. I look forward to commenting and sharing from my perspective.

  4. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks for the positive comments! Comments very welcome indeed, feel free to add to the relevant blog post or to cloudworks, whichever you prefer.

  5. Martin Oliver Says:

    Well, this book was apparently published once and then revised via a wiki:

    I’d have thought that the problem with an ‘open’ writing process is that a book requires closure. That’s a tension that’ll need managing from the outset, I’d guess.

  6. Valerie Bentinck Says:

    I wonder how the thoughts are developing - I am finally getting to grips with understanding learning technologies and am ploughing through ‘contemporary perspectives in e-learning research’, so looking forward to further reading!

  7. stephen relf Says:

    Congratulations and thanks on two counts. The first is the subject of the book. It is great to have this unfolding of our understanding of teaching with new technologies. As Laurillard has said often, our culture has had millennia to come to terms with and use traditional teaching technologies - book and chalk board etc., but mere decades with the range of digital technologies. This helps that new understanding.

    The second is the experiment with the book and online writing. It is an experiment of similar significance to education in the digital age. I see this experiment as an extension of Landow’s experiment and a similar acknowledgment of the technology in writing and literacy, which Bill Green would term l(IT)eracy and wr(IT)ing. It also seems to have shades of the Journal of Media in Education and their online reviews. (wouldn’t fit this on a Twitter!)

  8. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks for the comments Stephen and glad you like the focus of the book! Have just posted a new blog post reflecting on my experiences of open writing so far

  9. George Veletsianos » Archive » Week 33 of the #change11 MOOC: Scholars’ online participation and practices Says:

    […] when Grainne Conole is authoring her book “in the open” (on Cloudwords, her blog, and copies of the document on a shared dropbox folder) she is atempting to gather feedback from […]

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