Bodies in Motion: Video Shouts Out to Open Education

“Open Ed” is a thirty-second video, that stitches together fragments of physical abandon captured at ISKME’s Big Ideas Fest 2012. Since 2009, hundreds of educators, students, entrepreneurs, researchers, philanthropists, and education technologists have attended the Big Ideas Fest to collaborate -- by brainstorming, designing and hands-on prototyping -- on ways to create educational change. This year, the education innovation convening featured a visual art event as captured on video by a remote-controlled aerial camera hovering over the dancing crowd of 200 bodies. Set on a cliff over Half Moon Bay, California, the ephemeral “moving” message from this partly spontaneous, partly choreographed 30 seconds seeks to embody the concept of transformation in education as making change by “doing.”

ISKME worked with Spectral Q’s director of body-word happenings, John Quigley, and AeriCam, to devise a message legible from the air. Although chilled by fog and knees soggy from kneeling in the mud, the participants were ebullient after being briefly coached to embody and let fly our “Open Ed” message. Open Education or “Open Ed,” stands for a movement to liberate education generally, and specifically, teaching and learning materials from legal, technical, financial, and cultural constraints, and support the right of all people to a free and open high-quality education. ISKME, the creator of, undertook the art event to underscore its longstanding commitment to “education as doing.”

“Ready, set, go!” came the director Quigley’s command to the crowd of educators, students, and event staff to get into their exact positions. From our huddle on the wet ground, we were unable to discern the message that could be seen from above. We had to trust that the clump of bodies would be accurately read by the camera, and that, through this act of doing, we would each increase our ability to stimulate more awareness and action around our Open Ed message as well as our mission to change through doing.

From my personal experience of the event, I’d say the moment has had lasting impact. From the final preparations for the aerial shot, when a few of us ISKME-ites did the math to construct the shape and the letters on the turf, to laying the guidelines that threatened to blow away, to the celebratory two-step dance led by filmmaker and Rapid Fire speaker Matt (Where the Hell is Matt?) Harding, it moved me. Coincidentally, before I even knew that the grassy location was actually in the shape of a snail shell, I suggested to Quigley that we create a Fibonacci spiral to represent a continued unfolding and flowering of our intentions around Open Education.

This serendipity reveals the power of collaborative innovation. I see the Open Ed moment in the video as part of the activated change process we facilitate, which seeks to put more doing into learning for everyone.

March 18, 2013