Expanded education symposium: who is Brian Lamb?

Disclaimer: this post is an exercise of liveblogging. Even when the content remains forever, must be understood as juncture, with some imprecisions. 



This post is egocentric, I’m really sorry about that. But let me continue, you might find some useful information though.

I have to introduce Brian Lamb this evening at Zemos 98 Festival, so I have decided to organize my ideas about him in this post as a previous exercise to my spoken introduction.

I completely agree with novelist Vladimir Nabokov: one of his biggest reasons in order not to give live interviews was that he was much better writer than speaker, so why should he speak about his novels? I feel in a similar way every time I have to speak to an audience. That’s why I have decided to write this post, I prefer to put my ideas on a text before communicating them in a talk.

I heard about Brian Lamb many times, all of them by some of my colleagues telling wonderful things about how this professor innovates in the use of learning technologies. Everybody was speaking about him in such a good way that in my mind he became like a untouchable pope with miles of distance between me. That image soon felt when I met him personally. It was during UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar, where he assisted as part of the audience: dressed up with a black shirt with big white music keys in. To me his image was near to one of those Nudie country suits. Weird for a Canadian teacher, isn’t it? I thought the same.

After this first impact I started to talk with him and to me he seemed a really nice person, he was actually trying to speak some Spanish so that I could feel more comfortable with him. We didn’t talk about e-Learning, neither about technologies or mash-ups, we spoke about his son and family, for at that time he was a visiting professor at UOC and had his family (including his girlfriend’s mom) with him.

The rest of the things I know about him I learned from his weblog:

He is an expert on social learning and open education, formerly Emerging Technologies Discoordinator with UBC’s Office of Learning Technology.

A fast look to his weblog give us very interesting information: his very innovative idiosyncrasy as learning professional is accompanied by a very acid and fun sense of humour. Some of his most famous articles are titled making funny (and atractive for the audience) winks to cultural stereotypes and myths. For example:

Brian is also a very valuable speaker. Let me summarize some of the ideas he recently expressed on an interview published at UOC’s web site:

  • About educator refusing technological innovation:

    There are a lot of really legitimate grounds to feel insecure, but I believe that if the university addresses those challenges head on it can actually thrive in a more open, disaggregated knowledge environment, really actively engaging the wider community. 

  • About Web 2.0 uses in education:

    My approach is to look at what is working out in the Web 2.0 and try to see what lessons we can learn. And it seems like the projects that are successful there have an invitation to participate as a big part of that. It is the idea that individuals doing the things that they want to do can nonetheless be part of something bigger. The opportunity to offer feedback, the idea that a piece of media once created can be replicated, adapted and mixed with other pieces of content… 

  • And some more, just see how he inspires others. In this case is Jim Groom, creator of the term edupunk, writing:

    The ability for Brian to simultaneously challenge and embrace ideas may be facilely discounted as contradictory or incongruous. But, in fact, it is this faculty that made this talk so deeply inspiring, it wasn’t only unbelievably gripping as performance, it was also deeply evocative as a means to elegantly problematize while affectionately living within some of the basic tenets supporting the infra-structural ideas of educational technology. Brian’s final slide sums it up even more eloquently… 

These are just some examples of Lamb’s value as a educator and speaker, but there are many more. Some of them will be shown today at his talk, some of them will be appearing on his weblog. The rest of us should just sit down, open our mind (as Jimi Tenor says, they should be like open books, so that we could read some others mind easly) and let him inspire us.

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