Archive for July, 2010

An open approach to book writing

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

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 ;-)