Creating and Sharing Culture at SCEPTrE, Surrey University


I visited SCEPTrE last November and had a chat with Prof. Norman Jackson who I used to work closely with whilst I was working at Surrey. He was explaining about a lifewide curriculum and the Surrey award. Having participated in several weeks of cck09 we talked about learning networks and where these might be in an award.

This then led to a suggestion by Norman about running a Cultural Academy which was related to the award and I asked if we could extend it to the cck09 participants and he thought it was a good idea. Although I worked with staff and occasionally students at Surrey, delivering a cultural academy in terms of subject matter was way beyond me but its great that Norman is so approachable about a concept and happy to see what evolved.

Planning & Delivery

There was initially some interest from some other cck09 participants and I would particularly like to thank John and Eduardo for taking time to try and work out how we could plan this, sharing their expertise and links. We had a go at trying to think it through but couldn’t quite move forward to something specific. Some of this may be due to being over the Christmas/New Year period.  All details of this can be found in the discussions on the ConnectivismEducationLearning ning group.

Tessy Britton who is a very smart lovely angel that inhabits this planet in human form, came to the rescue with an idea for sharing in social spaces, which she sent as a proposal to Norman who thought it was brilliant.

“The objective of the workshop was to generate ideas for an exhibition which will be held on 10th March on campus which focuses on sharing culture —> creating a culture of sharing —> leading to developing a Multicultural Commons.” 1

This led to a wonderful workshop last week. I would also like to thank Tessy and Norman for allowing me to participate and see it evolve – it was very kind ! It was fun to be part of such a creative group that went from being initially unsure what to expect, to buzzing with ideas within minutes.  They have set up a Ning and a twitter account to assist with planning for the exhibition. I’m sure its going to be amazing !

1. Britton T (2009), Community Sharing Lab 1, Thriving Too blog, available at:


  1. Hi Nicola,
    Glad to learn about the wonderful workshop held last week, with an exhibition to be held on 10th March. Congratulations to Tessy and Norman for having such wonderful initiatives and success. I think we need more of this in sharing culture. May be we could try something different, more creative and innovative, rather than the conventional workshop format, though I am sure people nowadays are expecting more “hands-on” with workshop. I know we all want to try new things, and so it would be interesting to try some ground-breaking activities. Anything in mind?

    How about an interactive virtual exhibition on multi-culture? I have once posted a YouTube video where someone (a teacher) recorded the displayed projects of an exhibition. If the recorded post (or projects) could be multimedia based -i.e. you could “play”, interact, or chat with the presenter (ask them questions, or leave them with comments). I know SL could do some or most of this, but SL takes up too much bandwidth, and not every one has access to it. This is similar in concept to many virtual games, but I think having a multi-cultural aspects (like the street fighter having fighters of different cultures or characters) may be more interesting. One thought in mind is about common themes – cultural differences in terms of attitudes and habits in food, clothings, dwelling, work etc.
    Thanks again Nicola for your update.

    • Hi John, its always so nice to hear from you, thanks so much for stopping by ! The interactive virtual exhibition is a fantastic idea – maybe we could persuade some of CoLab (we may need to check with Norman and Tessy re any contractual implications for them but I think they will film it anyway). As of this today, I’m not 100% sure where everything is exactly up to and I may not be able to make it on the 10th now due to a work clash unfortunately.

      Hmm – thinking – agree re Second Life. I looked at virtual exhibitions way back but nothing really innovative, mostly somewhat primitive attempts to copy what they had seen in physical ones without the technologies to support it, Second life a bit better but yes re bandwidth & access. I guess with Ustream or something but that’s not innovative or new. It would be really exciting for the students to have other people from other countries and cultures interacting with them live though. Can’t do anything amazing with interactive touch before 10th March Its a shame we can’t use anything from I-Lab, sorry I have no contacts there and all of their work is probably unavailable).

      Sorry but I’m a bit tired, I’d like to sleep on it and think some more. This may have something of interest in it in relation to food/drinking habits.

      This is an area that’s interesting to explore for the future, do you remember ages ago very briefly discussing re possibilities of using bluetooth and connecting up to humans – still very happy to connect on this if of interest too, not necessarily just bluetooth.


  2. This is a duplicate of my ning reply.
    Hi, thanks for the links, I will look at these tonight

    I’m not up with augmented reality to be honest – Ron Edwards did some mobile stuff a couple of years back, I know things like Layar have come along since,but from what I can see its not connective as in with others – unless you were doing some kind of video conferencing (wrong word but it will do for now) with a second camera or something so others online could also ‘browse your augmented reality browsing’ at the same time. Not sure if I have explained that very well.

    MIT students tend to hack a few things together fairly easily, but I’m not at MIT or in that world. Making digital content on the mobile phone physically graspable is more like the kind of thinking I would be interested in, 3Dphone project I need to check back in with – it looks like they have some updated results now, but I haven’t looked at yet. Speaking of Turkish, I can’t remember which university, it may have been Bilkent or another Turkish uni but worth checking out their 3Dtv work if you’re interested.

    Again, this doesn’t really help connect others with you connecting with your phone in a very meaningful way in terms of interacting through your phone virtually. And its just a single device. There was a fantastic post last week on Near Future Laboratory about augmented reality, it is so insightful about design and how the excitement of different technological innovations leads to mass produced overpriced and sometimes meaningless interaction (that is my personal opinion – I was ranting with a colleague last week about the development of mobile devices amongst other technological devices), this is what Near Future said:

    ” It’s a source of endless amusement to see demonstrations of *AR where a camera is pointed at a box of cereal flakes and some well-intentioned bus-dev-tech-geek says — *see! this app can show you what’s in the box. It’s cereal flakes, for goodness sake. I’m not saying that pointing at something and opening up that gesture to be freshly inhabited with new signals and symbols and moments of goodness, but don’t start with what the technology can do, especially when it does so so exceptionally poorly. And if I hear about Tube Stop locators one more time, my head is going to explode. If I’m a guy walking around with a fuck-off $500 device I’d rather understand why I can’t (a) read a paper map; (b) ask someone; (c) self-navigate. This seems to be a much more curious social-technical challenge that may actually shape and inform how navigation is understood and works, perhaps with some technical whizzybangery discovered in the process of understanding why people today seem so fascinated with finding the nearest TubeStop, Pub, Taco Truck, &c.

    *That’s just me. I’m being snarky this morning largely because I want to find the way to invert these sorts of design discussions and lead first with experiences and practices and histories of what has become *AR rather than start with a silly discussion that begins with – *AR is inevitable; there are billions of devices with screens and cameras and CPUs.* I’ve heard all this before with *Virtual Reality — and it really doesn’t play out well for creating intriguing, engaging, habitable near future worlds.” 1

    I am challenged for time this week, i.e. I have an hour or so tonight then that’s probably it until next Monday evening due to work and other commitments, possibly an hour or so on Thursday too but I’m not sure yet, happy to continue discussing. I will try and speak with Norman today too, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and the exhibition planning is a nice opportunity for CoLab to take the lead in whatever direction they see fit. Do you want to speak directly with Tessy too ?


    1. Near Future Laboratory (2010) Design Fiction Chronicles: Robocop + Pre-Augmented Reality Augmented Reality, Near Future Laboratory, available at:

  3. Hi Nicola,

    Thanks for further sharing, they are great resources, and very interesting. I think you have already done a lot, and we have just brainstormed possible application of AR, not just confined to the workshop.

    As you are pretty busy, so let’s just wait and see.

    I share your view that “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and the exhibition planning is a nice opportunity for CoLab to take the lead in whatever direction they see fit :)”. It would be wonderful to share our learning and resources with Norman or Tessy, and I hope this helps.

    Please let Tessy and Norma know that I am interested in their initiative. Let me know what they think.

    I would also like to learn if there are any other members who are still interested in this. Or we could continue our discussion on such topic in whatever platform that you choose or like.


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