Open Thinkering


Are you an ‘Edupunk’? I’m not.

Apparently, “the concept of Edupunk has totally caught wind, spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire” according to Stephen Downes. I must have been too busy with Twitter and FriendFeed to notice.*

This may show my ignorance, but I’ve never heard of Jim Groom. Please forgive me if I’ve committed a heinous crime by saying that, but in four years of reading (lots and lots) of posts in the edublogosphere, I can’t remember him being mentioned once. Which is not to say that he’s not to be listened to or that he doesn’t have good ideas – of course not! He’s probably never heard of me. I’m just sayin’… 😉

Here’s what Jim has to say about the concept of ‘edupunk’. His context is Blackboard‘s aims to try and trademark and sue everyone else out of existence:

I don’t believe in technology, I believe in people. And that’s why I don’t think our struggle is over the future of technology, it is over the struggle for the future of our culture that is assailed from all corners by the vultures of capital. Corporations are selling us back our ideas, innovations, and visions for an exorbitant price. I want them all back, and I want them now!

Enter stage left: EDUPUNK!

My next series of posts will be about what I think EDUPUNK is and the necessity for a communal vision of EdTech to fight capital’s will to power at the expense of community. I hope others will join me.

Sorry Jim, I’m not going to be joining you. Despite the fact that I’ve set out my stall saying that the edublogosphere is (in some ways) changing for the worse, an ‘Edupunk’ movement is not the answer. Why?

  1. It’s a group, not a network – i.e. 1.0 not 2.0 (OK, so I know you reject labels…)
  2. It harks back to a time when either I wasn’t born or was very, very young. I have no meaningful connection with the metaphor you’re trying to use.
  3. It makes any members of the movement sound vaguely violent. 😮
  4. It seems to have the assumption behind it that we (either individually or collectively) have the answers, when actually we’re learners like everyone else.
  5. Most Web 2.0 apps are free, and I’m at liberty to pick and choose them at will and use them how I want.

I’m all for being counter-cultural, anti-capitalist and bold towards authority, but I don’t think the right essence has been captured with ‘Edupunk’. Sorry. Perhaps I’m not ‘of a certain age’… 🙁

Further reading:

*That’s not a flippant comment, by the way; it’s almost impossible to keep up with the number of decent-quality blogs in the edublogosphere these days, so I prefer ‘almost’ real-time interactions to get at what people are currently thinking. Blogs are still great. :-p

16 thoughts on “Are you an ‘Edupunk’? I’m not.

  1. Doug,

    What are you talking about? This post is soooo EDUPUNK :)

    I'm definitely a no-name, and I wouldn't worry so much about the term, just keep on creating with the most pwoerful tool, you;re imagination.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for the good grace, Jim. :-D

    I appreciate that your comment:

    What are you talking about? This post is soooo EDUPUNK :-)

    is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but trying to nail things down doesn't work – it ends up leading to a broad spectrum which needs further subdivision.

    I am who I am. No labels (apart from perhaps 'teacher', 'husband' and 'father'…)

  3. One more thing, Scott Leslie nailed the idea:

    You know what, if the term bugs you, that's fine, don't use it, but do enable, liberate, disrupt, tear down, build up, do. And recognize bankruptcy and phoniness when you see it, and even when you're scared about the possible results, resist it.

    And I think that this is an idea anyone can buy!

  4. I'm going to take minor issues with a couple of points.

    #1 – why do you think it's a group not a network? I'd say that's still to be determined

    #4 – I disagree. I think we DO have answers (not all of them) AND we are learners. This goes back to my contention that many of the solutions ARE clear, it's just that people (and institutions) lack the will, desire, etc. to implement what is already known to work.

    #5 – I don't see that anyone talking edupunk is arguing otherwise.

    But really, I'm with Scott Leslie– whatever it's called, the principles being brought forward are good ones that we should be keeping in mind while fighting the good fight.

  5. I am another blogger you have never heard about. I have been reading Jim Groom's blogs for several months and for me he is Mr WordPress MU. For me he is one of the more creative bloggers around.

  6. Read your comment over on David Warlick's '2cents worth'. Quite right, it is the latest 'meme'. Wonder when an eduPunk Diigo group will be set up?

    You know, these memes and themes and groups pop up on Twitter and the various blogs. Part of me wants to participate yet I resist. I still feel that if I get caught up in it I will become an 'educlone'. No, I did not coin that term 'educlone'. Someone used it on a group called EduGeek. :P

    Time to filter my reader as well.

    eduCheers, eduJohn.

  7. I have covered Jim Groom's blog for years on OLDaily. Here is a listing of the work I've covered over the last year or two (think of it as a personal 'recent best of'):

    You can follow-up on the work of any author on my website like this; the full list of authors is here:

    Of course – if you don't read my newsletter, you won't have heard of Jim Groom, and you won't be familiar with this feature… ;)

  8. @Stephen: Of <em<course</em> I read OLWeekly – doesn't everybody? OLDaily was getting too much for me, I must admit, but I do pick-and-choose the links that interest me in your weekly newsletter.

    Given that you've only been picking up Jim's posts relating to higher education and things like Blackboard, iTunesU and Sakai, it's understandable I haven't heard of him. Thanks for the feature – now that I know about it, I'll be using it a bit more. :-)

  9. Hi Doug,
    i probably don't read as deeply as you but noticed Jim Groom through the rather wonderful Non-Programistan gig a while back. I love the ideas of EDUPUNK especially the ideas of teachers being DIY & creative, the mention of HyperCard delighted me, the sprit of HyperCard allowed teachers to pick up an idea and run. The new technologies (and the creative use of chalk) should give class teachers an edge over corporate offerings by allowing them to be agile and have fun.

  10. A small historical quibble– you mention not being of a “certain age.”

    Punk might not be your scene, or have been your scene, but it’s always been around.

    In the US, you can connect almost any year with where the punk scene was biggest– the late seventies NYC, the early eighties LA, mid-eighties DC, late eighties Bay Area… and on and on. There’s been a punk scene for the last thirty years. I know you’re in the UK, but I’m virtually certain this is true there as well.

    It’s bigger in certain places at certain times, but the network of zines and small mail-order record labels made certain that the scene– or at least dispatches from it– were available to kids in the most backwater towns… who were then free to go out and try to foster and encourage a scene where they were. (The essence of DIY.)

    I should know– I’m a small-town kid from a rural town in the Midwest. I read Maximum Rock & Roll religiously as a teen. I went to shows. At 29, though, if Sid & Nancy had had a kid, he’d be a few months older than me. Simultaneously, Lindsea at Students 2.0 (the very spelling of her name makes it virtually certain she’s close to ten years younger than I) resents a bunch of educated people who’re pushing forty coopting the label punk– they’re too old to be punk. Punk is something her generation “owns.”

    Punk is subcultural, almost tribal, and it ebbs and flows, but there’s been kids out there making the scene *somewhere* pretty consistently for over thirty years.

    …The word may not draw you in, it may not be your scene, but claiming it’s a generational difference is an historical fallacy.

  11. $0.02 of advice – if you want people (especially those of us who don't know *you*) to engage with your substantive arguments, don't start off a piece with an ad hominem like "but I’ve never heard of Jim Groom." Not only does it undercut everything you wrote afterwards, it also ends up revealing that you're not following along as closely as you think.

  12. @Tad: I quote:

    Punk might not be your scene, or have been your scene, but it’s always been around….

    Punk is subcultural, almost tribal, and it ebbs and flows, but there’s been kids out there making the scene *somewhere* pretty consistently for over thirty years.

    As an historian, 30 years isn’t even a wrinkle in human history as far as I’m concerned – so how can it have ‘always been around’? 😉

    @Scott: Apologies, but perhaps it’s impossible to follow everything in the edublogosphere – I don’t even think the mighty Downes manages that. The reason I mention never having heard of Jim Groom is to show my readers that I too have difficulty keeping up with everything. Jim’s obviously an established part of the Edublogosphere, yet he hasn’t even registered on my radar in the past 3 years. Hope that clears things up. 🙂

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