Who Influences Ya Baby?


Licensed Creative Commons By HBuzacott

With apologies to those who are too young to have watched Kojak.

I’ve been thinking about who influences my thinking and why. I thought it might be quite nice to list them here. Maybe there are some people here that you think might be interesting to follow yourself or maybe there are people that you really think I should others that I should add to my list. If so, please let me know. I’m sure you will see a theme developing in the list so you’ll know what sort of people to suggest.

Before I launch into the list it’s worth making the observation that my influencers change over time and that influences come from many places, not least from family, friends and colleagues. While such influencers might not get a mention in a list like this it doesn’t mean that they are not extremely important in helping me rationalise my own thoughts and opinions.

Looking at my list I can see that:

  1. Most are alive
  2. Most blog and/or tweet
  3. There are a lot of Canadians, Britons and Australasians with a few Americans
  4. There aren’t enough women and I need to do something about that

Forming the list was hard enough without ranking them so here they are in alphabetic order each with a brief reason for their inclusion:

Tony Bates

Tony Bates is an enormously experienced educational technologist specialising in e-learning and distance education. He has a great blog and I find myself commenting on a large number of his posts as I see the linkages between his thoughts and my own experiences. He is also on my list of influencers because of this quote: “good teaching may overcome a poor choice of technology but technology will never save bad teaching”

Leigh Blackall

I know of Leigh Blackall because of his work around open content, for starting an open PhD and for his achievements at Otago Polytechnic and the University of Canberra. Also for being delightfully outspoken about it all. He is a radical thinker who constantly provokes some new insights. Read his stuff here it’s good.

James Clay

James Clay is the ILT & Learning Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College. He was the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Learning Technologist of the Year in 2009. He has a great blog which you can read here. While I often think that James’ ideas about VLEs and LMSs are quite different to my own I actually find that we come at the same vision by different routes. Either way I like his ideas.

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is a Canadian blogger and journalist known for his views on copyright and as proponent of Creative Commons. His views will fundamentally change how we think of the ownership of knowledge. He’s here on Craphound.

Jim Groom

Jim Groom is the ‘poster boy of edupunk’. He has done some fabulous things with WordPress blogs at the University of Mary Washington. He is irreverent, controversial and outspoken. His views on Edupunk and DIY Education are way ahead of their time. You can read his fascinating blog, Bavatuesdays here.

Anya Kamanetz

Sadly Anya is the only woman on my list which is something I am most unhappy about. She is an outrageous overachiever in the best possible way and she is the author of “How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education” in 2009 and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education in 2010. These should be required reading for senior academic staff at all universities. The blog for DIYU is here.

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Harvard University. I’ve added him here because of his views on copyright, trademarks and digital rights management which will change the way information and knowledge is disseminated in the 21st Century.

Jon Mott

Jon Mott was Assistant to the Academic VP at Brigham Young University. I’ve added him here because he was the originator of the design of the ‘Loosely Coupled Gradebook’ at BYU which I think is just a very good idea. You can read about it here if you want to.

Pat Parslow

Pat Parslow works in OdinLab, researching social networking, virtual learning environments, virtual research environments, open learning, open learner models, open educational resources, concepts of the self and consciousness, Digital Identity, connectivism, networks, boundaries, abstraction and game based learning. His ideas are very innovative especially around assessment and openness. His web site his here.

Everett Rogers

Everett Rogers is here because he wrote “Diffusion of Innovations” which explains so much about the way in which innovations are disseminated and adopted (or not). It should be required for anyone concerned with the adoption of educational technology in higher education.  I refer to it almost daily.

Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. Previously he was Professor of Education at the University of Warwick in the UK. He has inspirational ideas about education in the 21st Century. If you don’t believe me then just watch his TED talks from 2006 and 2010.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

To be honest I don’t know much about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry other than that he was a French aviator and writer who died in 1944. I’ve included him here because of this quote which drives a lot of what I’ve tried to do in life:

You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, Not when you have nothing more to add, But when you have nothing more to take away.”

If you want to know more about him, here is is Wikipedia entry.

Steven Schwartz

Steven Schwartz is the American Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University in Australia who blogs, tweets and thinks very deeply about issues facing higher education. He is one of a handful of very senior academic leaders who I think genuinely understands the effect of technology on patterns of knowledge distribution in society and the effects it may have on higher education. His excellent blog is here.

George Siemens

George Siemens is a theorist on learning in a digitally-based society. He is based at Athabasca University and is the author of the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and the book Knowing Knowledge. I think of him as the father of connectivism.

Martin Weller

Martin Weller is a Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK. He writes about web 2.0, VLEs, e-learning and educational technology on his blog. His ideas about openness, academic publishing and academic reputation are all thought provoking and I tend to agree with them (mostly). His blog is here.

Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Plymouth. He is very influential in educational technology and e-learning and is a prolific blogger and publisher. He has presented at conferences around the world. His ideas about a whole rage of issues are consistently thought provoking and often radical. His blog is here.

David Wiley

David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology & Technology at Brigham Young University. He is also Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge. His work has focused on the development of learning objects and, specifically, open educational resources. All of these are things that I fundamentally believe in. His web site is here.


So that’s my list of key influencers in November, 2010. There are quite a few who came close to being on the list. It was certainly quite hard to narrow it down but I think I’ve got a fairly rounded group of people that cover my main professional interests. Forming the list is quite a pleasant task actually. Why don’t you write your own list and share it? Or maybe having seen my list and the sorts of thinking they represent, you could suggest some other people that might influence me.

5 Comments On “Who Influences Ya Baby?”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Who Influences Ya Baby? | Mark Smithers -- Topsy.com

  2. Thanks for this great list! I don’t have anyone to add to it, but have been pondering how wonderful it is that we can engage with, and learn from so many great thinkers and leaders.


  3. Thanks for the kind words Mark. Its nice to get such good feedback, especially for reinforcement against the backlash to my outspoken-ness.



  4. Great list – thank you Mark. Some names in common with people who are in my own PLN (Clay, Groom, Lessig, Robinson, Siemens, Weller, Wheeler and Wiley) but did not know some of the others – so thank you for new leads to follow.

    It’s a bit like Amazon – if you like these people, then you will probably also like these as well!

    The inclusion of Antoine is interesting – the Little Prince is a favourite book – would not have thought of inclusion on this list though. I need to think ‘out of the box’ a bit more. I do enjoy Seth Godin as well – I just find his positive energy inspiring. I would also include Curt Bonk – not so much for Ed Tech stuff or his blog as much as his wonderful energy and ability to connect people for mutual benefit. He lives reciprocity and connecting with people all over the world.

    Oh – and yes – I do remember Kojak – I think Seth Godin has the same barber!


  5. This is a neat idea and a great list. Sometime you have to take the time to think about everyone who has influenced you in your lifetime and give them a shout out.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *