Grooving on an essential open educator

Words fail me when I try to capture the depth of my admiration for Grant Potter. A creative and profoundly thoughtful educator. A brilliant technologist, tinkerer, hauler of bootstraps. A webhead of the highest and most ethical order. An astonishing and versatile musician. An ambassador of almost every form of Canadiana worth feeling proud of. A riotous and abiding jokester. A stomper of terra. A generous and gregarious soul. That doesn’t even begin to cover it…

So I was thrilled to see that Grant is being recognised by his home institution at the University of Northern British Columbia, and will be delivering this year’s Robert W. Tait Annual Lecture on Implementing Teaching Excellence at UNBC. The talk is this Friday, January 10th at 2:00 PM PST. It is being livestreamed at I’m looking forward to hosting a little viewing party here at TRU.

More on the talk Grant will be doing:

“Connections, Community and Open Educational Practice”

The term “open”, in traditional terms means, positively, being open to ideas, experience, evidence, argument, discussion, persuasion, method and reason. In a more contemporary way, it has meant shared, free of copyright, or with a copyright model that allows sharing, it has meant collaborative and free to modify, and/or distribute. In educational institutions the idea of “open” starts with two things: visibility and persistence. What you do must be visible, with no constraints. And some part of it must produce artifacts that are persistent – they can be found over time. But to me open also implies a philosophy or value system – a belief that having activity out in the open yields multiple positive benefits and a commitment to continually work on becoming more accessible and inclusive. The people I know who continue to experiment with open learning and open resources have this philosophy as their underlying motivation: society benefits from sharing ideas and data but there remains a good deal of work to be done to find ways to put this vision into operation. This presentation will explore innovative, impactful examples of open educational practice and pathways to adoption for educators.

I wanted to finish up this post with an artefact of prime Potter. But what? There’s the ongoing wonder of DS106 Radio. His jaw-dropping short intro video he did for the first open iteration of DS106, “Until that Moment”. His fantastic talk at UMW Faculty Academy on “Tinkering, Learning, and The Adjacent Possible”.

Instead, I thought I would share one of the peak moments of my life, one of many that I owe to Grant. This video was shot on the Open Ed 2012 Conference jam, on a boat somewhere off the coast of Vancouver. It’s one of the participatory musical miracles for which Grant has been the ringleader over the years. And I always thought this clip (filmed so well by Novak Rogic) captured some sort of truth about open educational experiences for me. This particular group of musicians had never played together before, and maybe it’s a little too obvious that this song had never been rehearsed. David Wiley has said “content is infrastructure” in open ed, and here the “content” (the old song “Money”) is the shared knowledge that allows the band to improvise together with a sense of purpose and direction. But really, what makes this happen is energy and attitude. Watch Grant in this video, in it he embodies all the attributes of a stellar open educator. When Gardner Campbell calls out “Money” as the next song (I remember thinking at that moment with confusion that he meant the Pink Floyd song, and wondering how the hell we were going to pull that off), Grant adds that wonderful affirmative energy of his, and away we go. Throughout the song, besides demonstrating his considerable skills, he is actively watching and listening to the other musicians, and with his body language plays an invaluable role in holding the whole crazy thing together.

Can’t wait to hear Grant’s talk this Friday. And here’s to heaps more Potter-style adventures in the months and years ahead.

20 thoughts on “Grooving on an essential open educator

  1. It is wonderful people like you and countless others working within open education communities that continually inspires me to keep on rocking in CC worlds. I am so grateful to be working within such a dedicated community of educators and all-round creative, insightful, fun people. First time I’ve seen that photo of me … looks like I’m working on an ” rel=”nofollow”>Abbie Hoffman hairdo 🙂

  2. Thanks for writing this Brian. I don’t know what we’d do without him at UNBC. He makes us laugh, shares his enthusiasm for open and teachs us all – everyday. He is an all round fantastic colleague and friend.

  3. Grant Potter rules!
    I missed the broadcast – anyone know if there’s an archive?
    Also, we shouldn’t forget @noiseprofessor’s careful documentation of all of Grant’s award winning photo moments:
    Grant Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Canadian Musical Legends Geddy Lee and Neil Peart
    Grant Adds the Nobel Prize to his Growing List of Accomplishments
    Grant Accepts his Oscar
    Grant Wins The Stanley Cup
    and best of all:
    The Award Winning Grant Potter

    1. How could I have forgotten those images when I wrote this post?

      Hopefully an archive of Grant’s talk will be posted. I notice previous years are on the the UNBC site.

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