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Chris Bigum

Welcome to my bit space1. A wee piece of digital real estate in which I keep something of a collection of the various projects on which I am working and, as I get around to it, a digital paper trail of projects past.
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I am afreelanceacademic2, something akin to a free range hen3, working from theGold Coastof Australia. Most of the work I do is in bit space which makes me a virtual freelancer. Currently, I have an adjunct appointment at the Griffith Institute for Educational Research. I also dobits and piecesin Education at Griffith. I am always open to offers, paid or unpaid that areinteresting!


I like to work with good people. I like to work with people who disagree with me. I like to swim with people better than me. I like to learn with people who are better learners than I am. I like to write with people who are better writers than I am. You get the drift. I tend to think of myself as an amateur human4, a work very much in progress.

I like to think about this time as a kind of sabbatical. A time away from mind-numbing routines and demands to think, to read and to write. To do all those things I promised myself I'd do one day.

I have been puzzling about the digital and formal education since the 1970's. I have fond memories of time-shared computers with 8K of RAM for 4 users, of doing battle with Fortran on an IBM 360/50 and so on. Long time.

I am interested in three things5 :Edges, Exponentials & Education. Edges: because this is where new and potentially game changing stuff happens; Exponentials: because this is the rate at which key technologies are improving6; Education: because in this current period of human history, it remains the most important task.

Why do I do this? I am singularly unimpressed with the way in which formal education systems (and many government bureaucracies) maintain a view that they are in control, know what is going on and know what is best for the young7 and learners generally. Asleep at the wheel is a phrase that comes to mind. We have to begin having debates about things like the rise and rise of automation of all kinds and what this means for preparing the young. We have to get away from the mind numbingly stupid one size fits all schooling system8 and begin lots and lots of experiments in doing school differently. We have to get much much better at thinking about the digital. We have to get much better at dealing with delegating work to machines. We also have to pay more attention to what is happening at the Edges. The work ofSugata Mitra,Salman Khanand826 Nationalare well known. But there are all kinds of amazing things happening9when kids have been given an opportunity to tackle real problems, not the pretend ones they encounter in school.

I have 'promiscuous'reading habits10 and am drawn to stuff that is outside the familiar or routine. How one makes sense of what often seems a crazy world, particularly in education, is important to me and my theory space maps the ideas and folk who have shaped much of my thinking.

If all of this has not made you close the window and you are interested in some/any of these agendas, do contact me. I promise not to bite.

 Notes 1: Some might say it is more of a swamp than a space. The details of how I put this together can be found here
2: I have a list of work that I can do and enjoy doinghere.
3: As opposed to academics who work in various battery cages (aka universities, well, some universities). This footnote, which was written in jest, has gained some notoriety among some of the managerialista. As a result I have kicked off a wee project to examine the basis of their umbrage. I think though that the hen analogy does not quite capture it. Maverick, as in unbranded range animal is prolly closer to the mark.
4: Stealing a line from Frank Chimero, a thoughtful and talented designer.
5: In fact, many more than three as I have tried to indicate in the other lab
6: It is also a marker for what Kelly calls the GRIN (geno, robo, info & nano) technologies which exhibit exponential growth in performance and other interesting attributes
7: I have eleven year old twins who had been suffering the stupidities of the current system but have mercifully found a school that shows a lot of common sense, nous and compassion. They have lucked into a set of great, inspiring teachers (so far) and very good leadership. I also have four older kids who managed to survive the inanities of the formal education systems of Australia.
8: The same applies to the notion of a national curriculum. I have written a wee rant about that.
9: There is awonderful aggregator sitewhich has a growing collection of kids doing terrific stuff. The gal running it taught me all aboutwhat kids could doif given the opportunity.
10: As a good colleague, Donna Alvermann, once remarked.

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