Technologists, Educators & Innovators to Convene at UC Irvine Sept. 26-27 for Open Learning Symposium on the Future of Higher Education

(IRVINE, CA) – Higher education is experiencing upheaval. With The New York Times declaring 2012 the “Year of the MOOC” (massive open online courses), open courseware companies sprouting up in record numbers and hundreds of thousands of people learning with and from one another online, what is the future of higher education? How do we make sense of the hype around MOOCs (after all, there are MOOCs about everything from artificial intelligence to zombies)? Could postsecondary learning eventually function more like the networked society we live in – open, participatory, social, peer to peer, and connected?

A leading group of technologists, educators, and innovators, whose endeavors embody the principles of connected learning, will gather at UC Irvine’s Calit2 on September 26-27 to address these questions and exchange ideas around new approaches to online learning – in an effort to speak into a broader controversy about the need to transform higher education in the 21st century. The event is free and open to the public.

The symposium is an extension of the Reclaim Open Learning Innovation Contest, which was conducted earlier this summer by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, located at the UC Humanities Institute at UC Irvine, and the MIT Media Lab. The winners of the contest, whose work demonstrated use of open access technologies and business models, received a stipend of $2000 to continue working on their open learning projects, which they will present at the Sept. 26 summit. The winning entries, which come from India, the UK, and the US, are: DigiLit Leicester, DS106, FemTechNet, Jaaga Study, and Photography BA Hons and Phonar-Ed.

The event commences with a conversation with John Seely Brown, a former head at XEROX Parc and an expert in radical innovation, digital culture and ubiquitous computing. Brown will be talking with Amin Saberi, professor of management science, computational and mathematical engineering at Stanford and now head of NovoEd, a MOOC startup offering courses from some of the world’s top business schools with the novel inclusion of small group, real-world, collaborative, project-based learning.

Day two of the symposium features demos and panels from a variety of educators and innovators including UCI professor David Theo Goldberg, executive director of the UC Humanities Research Institute and co-author of a widely-read report, The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age; social media and Web-based learning pioneer Howard Rheingold; Peer-to-Peer University founder Philipp Schmidt; and technology writer Anya Kamenetz.

The Reclaim Open Learning Symposium and Innovation Contest are part of a larger Reclaim Open Learning Initiative sponsored by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub and the MIT Media Lab with an aim of developing a community of academics and practitioners who are interested in exploring what “openness” really means in post secondary education.

A Livestream web cast will be available at


September 26, 2013 | 5:00 PM | Calit 2 Auditorium + Livestream
Welcome: David Theo Goldberg
Opening Keynote Event: John Seely Brown

6:30 PM | Calit2 Atrium
Gathering – Reclaim Open Learning Reception

September 27, 2013 | 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Calit2 + Livestream of selected panels
Demos and Panels – Program will feature:

  • John Seely Brown
  • Martha Burtis, DS106
  • Susanna Ferrell, FemTechNet
  •  Josie Fraser, Digilit Leicester 
  • David Theo Goldberg, University of California Humanities Research Institute
  • Mimi Ito, Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, UC Irvine
  • Anya Kamenetz, DIYU
  • Alan Levin, DS106
  • Elizabeth Losh, University of California, San Diego
  • Freeman Murray, JAAGA
  • Howard Rheingold 
  • Philipp Schmidt, MIT Media Lab and P2PU
  • Nishant Shah, Luneborg University and Center for Internet and Society, Bangalore
  • Jade Ulrich, FemTechNet
  • Jonathan Worth, Phonar


DigiLit Leicester | Josie Fraser, Leicester City Council, UK
This distributed course has a local aim: increasing the ability of local teachers in Leicester to use connected learning methods to support teaching and transform learning.

DS106 An Open, Online Digital Storytelling Course | Jim Groom, Martha Buris, Alan Levine, University of Mary Washington, United States
Based on the principle “a domain of one’s own,” Groom’s course connects registered students and open participants in an ever-evolving online community where they submit, complete and collaborate on assignments in writing, mash-ups, design, video, audio, and other media. DS106 lives online as a livestreaming radio station, a sub-reddit, a G+ group, a Twitter feed, and more.

FemTechNet | Susanna Ferrell, Jade Ulrich Scripps College, US
FemTechNet bills itself as the first “distributed online collaborative course.” In their beta outing, students applied feminist texts to labor, digital art, and archives, drawing connections between the dichotomies of software/hardware and feminism/masculinity. They edited Wikipedia, created sculptures and images and held dialogues with others of diverse backgrounds. The course is expanding globally.

Jaaga Study | Archana Prasad, Freeman Murray, India
Jaaga is a multidisciplinary creative hub in Bangalore, India. They are piloting informal learning programs leveraging MOOC resources with volunteer facilitators in a face to face community setting, with the goal of creating market-ready computer programmers.

Photography BA Hons and Phonar-Ed | Jonathan Worth, Coventry University, UK
These free and open photography classes are available in app form and deal directly with the nature of the photographer as publisher. Classroom-based but leveraging various online communities, they are expanding to a full master’s and bachelor’s program.

News Media Contact:
Jeff Brazil
Communication Director
Digital Media & Learning Research Hub
e: p: 949 824 9956

About the Reclaim Open Learning Initiative
Reclaim Open Learning is a collaboration between the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at UC Irvine and the MIT Media Lab. The thematic initiative is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

About the MacArthur Foundation and the Digital Media & Learning Initiative
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conversation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The MacArthur Foundation launched its digital media and learning initiative in 2006 to explore how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life, and what that means for their learning in the 21st century. More information on the digital media and learning initiative is available at