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Open Learning Glossary

what follows is a list of terms and their respective definitions that relate to the Pedagogy of Simultaneity (PoS), aesthetic literacy, and open learning as defined by Pekka Ihanainen and Michael Gallagher. These definitions are drawn and adapted from existing theory and research as well as our own explorations.

Learning is positioned as a deliberate act balancing trust in perceptual sensitivity (alignment), behavioral rhetorics (attunement), activity (data collection, composition, socialized activity) and reflection (to identify what has been learned, what must be iterated upon, etc.). Learning is a state of becoming mentally, physically, and perceptually sensitized, through alignment and attunement activity, to the environmental system in which the individual is resonating.

Open Learning is an act of openly receiving, composing, and sharing human, material and digital substances and energies from the open environment. Learning in the open means displacement from open access and participation to learning resources and activities to self-initiated and self-seduced intentional and serendipitous learning acts in all possible environments and settings. The process by which learning takes place in the open begins with an emotional evaluation of the open landscape; emotions return potential learning materials or attributes that might be in turn addressed in our logical or intellectual structures and bodily behaviour. Open learning of this sort avoids the inside/outside binaries of open access, open source, and the more traditional forms of open learning (open courses, OER, etc.).

Open Learners need ownership of their learning. This means both capacity (e.g. having and accessing a relevant technology), ability (e.g. knowledge, skills and timing mastery to use the technology) and a social context for free will. The learner in this open space is a highly active, highly engaged, and highly self-aware (or reflective) individual ready to engage the open environment.

Open Teachers perceive themselves to be aesthetes and artists. This does not mean working in private (or public) ateliers or writing and composing sanctums, but more everyday artisan type of orientation to presence and collaborations with (other) learners. Open teachers enact the learning they espouse in their learners by actually doing the learning, from aesthetic alignment to trust to discussion to collage. Open teachers make themselves available to encourage students to develop capacity for aesthetic alignment and attunement in open spaces, to identify objectives and approaches, to collage or artfully create, to socialize and to reflect on the usefulness of these engagements. Pragmatically, patience and flexibility are the positive traits of the open teacher. Patience (resulting from trust) to allow the learner to find their own presence in this open landscape; flexibility to adapt their approaches to the particular alignments and collages of the learner.

Lifelong learning is the ability of the learner in open environments to consistently define, execute and reflect upon their learning agenda. We see the definitions and concepts provided in this glossary as all supporting lifelong learning.

Mobile Learning is defined (and as adapted from Sharples, Kress & Pachler, etc.) as follows:

  • Learning that occurs across multiple contexts, amongst people and interactive technologies.
  • Learning that encapsulates public and private processes and high and low states of transactional distance; activity will flux between working alone and working in groups as well as towards and away from the organization.
  • Learning that is mobile in both material (physical) and cognitive. If there is no transformation of your understanding or your capacity for perception, there is no mobile learning.


Beauty: In play almost everything in the natural environment is seen through the lens of beauty or as beautiful. This perception of beauty through play is independent of any formal assessment of its aesthetic value. Beauty is a subjective value embedded in colours, forms, surfaces, and movements, which allows learners to perceive and act in objects, places, events and people. Beauty is an open-ended empathy towards the perceptible and workable.

Mindset: aesthetic literacy is a mindset, or an aesthetic orientation, seen through cognitive, emotional and intentional transformation activities of pacing, encountering, connecting, interacting and processing (refining). The mindset is filled and composed via the qualities of activity: slow and fast, fluent and angular, intact and unbalanced, exciting and mawkish, and rhythmic and arrhythmic. It is activated through alignment and attunement.

Alignment & Attunement: alignment and attunement refer to how we as humans cope with environments and niches in which we are embedded. Alignment and attunement do not exactly mean the same although they can in practice be used in the same sense. Alignment is more focused on perceptual relationships with the surrounding world, i.e. on perceptual sensitivity, while attunement touches the world more via acting on it. Attunement is connected with activities oriented to the environment, which we refer to as behavioural rhetorics.

Behavioural rhetorics as an element of aesthetic literacy refers to three kinds of active resonance. They are anticipatory emptiness, emotional openness and bodily vigilance.

Anticipatory emptiness is an active cognitive state of preparedness to recognize significance in open environments.

Emotional openness is closely connected with anticipatory emptiness. When you are cognitively anticipating meaning in an open environment, feelings are allowed to arise as such, thereby freeing the mind to craft meaning from dynamic environments.

Bodily vigilance is a part of anticipatory emptiness and emotional openness. It is an openness to physically move, change position and to seek new perspectives for aesthetically attuning and immersing oneself in one’s actual niche.

Perceptual sensitivity is the ability of the learner to perceive the potential for meaning in their open environments. This can involve perceiving towards, perceiving backwards, perceiving onwards, and perceiving by.

  • Perceiving towards means that we align ourselves with perceptible matter like a sunrise and sunset.
  • Perceiving backwards is in relation to earlier perceptual experiences, which is made visible in the present like seeing in the actual “vague” sunset all the strong and saturated colors that were present before.
  • Perceiving onwards is related to being inside the actual perception like seeing in the sunrise a pace of the forthcoming day, a predictive perception of future possibility.
  • Perceiving by refers to perception that is not fixed to some point or continuum, but to the periphery; it can be thought of as the possibility to see “invisible” lines, forms etc. building quite new meanings and realizations for the perceiver.

Trust generates individual learning. Trust also leads to the reduction or demolishing of pedagogy. Pedagogically trust empowers de-pedagogy. It means a skepticism towards or outright rejection of control and comparative measurement. However, it also means respect, attention and presence for learners and learning, which takes place everywhere, all the time and by everyone. Trust as pedagogy leads to acts recognizing learning as a rich resource, which is owned by all people and acquired in all their possible informal and formal settings. Trust is the bedrock of all the subsequent pedagogy of PoS. Trust allows the learner to believe that meaning exists in their landscape, to believe that the learning approaches and reflections are extensions of that perceived meaning, and to believe that the learning representations and knowledge generated from those approaches are valid expressions of the meaning identified there. Trust is an emotional leap of faith based on perceived, or approximated, significance.

Trust is critical for the development of the capacity for aesthetic alignment. Without it, we revert to formal modes of instruction and formal pedagogical approaches that emphasize outcomes over process. PoS, beginning with trust, decidedly emphasizes process over outcome.

Discussion generates mutual understanding. The basic pedagogical task is to notice and make possible these discussion sessions informally and formally at schools, workplaces, networks and in all places and forums where learners meet. Pedagogically, discussion means re-pedagogy, which produces new learning for the people taking part in assemblies. In Pedagogy of Simultaneity, we explicitly attempt to make visible this deconstruction and reconstruction of pedagogy on foundations aligned with the natural world. We circulate our findings, the initial results of our aesthetic alignments, through our social networks. Much of this socialization is generated through the environment itself, a socialization in situ. We encounter neighbors, friends, co-workers, strangers, collections of social interaction, both on and offline. We are perpetually circulating alignments through these networks, revising, resubmitting, reflecting.

Collage generates shared resources. Collages first appear as aggregates of separate fragments, but then – after aesthetic orientation – they emerge by themselves as reflective wholes. In practice all mashups, collections, summaries and other aggregates whether text-based or multimedia can be seen as collages. Collages are not external truths as such, but personal and inviting, constructed to help the individual see and understand them by themselves. Pedagogically, collage is an activity and outcome, which can be called en-pedagogy. En-pedagogy is analogical with en-code, a process of converting plain text into code. The meaning gleaned from the open environment is encoded into the collage. Once generated and circulated as a collage, it is built upon or contrasted against. It is progressive in the sense that it is never repeated in exactly the same way as the context and aesthetic alignments that generated it are never the same. It moves along with the learning and the learner.

Field activity refers to acts, performances and behaviour in which people perceive, examine and make meaning for their current and future understanding in their natural environments (disciplinary activity and daily events of living and working). These field activities can be inspired and guided by formal settings such as lessons at school or disciplinary practice, or they can relate to informal or practical learning opportunities, such as professional development, workplace activities, or personal learning activities.

Learning Variables

Learning space infers a secondary capacity of the learner to identify significance or potential significance in the open landscape and to begin to enact a learning process to extract or generate that meaning. In short, it involves seeing learning potential in the open landscape. The unique open space will become the learning space in accordance with the learner´s attunement and vice versa – the learner´s alignment activates how the open space become a learning space for her/him.

Simultaneity is the belief that multiple learning engagements and processes are occurring simultaneously in open learning environments, suggesting the need for a perceptual sensitivity to their machinations as well as to their capacity for altering the perception of the open environment. The definitions presented in this glossary all assume that simultaneity is a constant for open learners and must be acknowledged pedagogically.

Layeredness refers to the simultaneous reality of contemporary life. The layered world includes the emergence of linear, pointillist, cyclical and durative times, the complexity of physical, virtual and social places, and the humaneness of local, global, individual and social relations of people. Together they constitute an ontology of simultaneity. It is the environment for unique open and learning spaces.

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