I learned haphazardly via Twitter the other day that Jean-Claude Bradley had passed away quite recently, am still reeling a bit from this news, despite never having met him in person. When Open Education Resources were becoming a thing, JC Bradley was one of the first people I had heard about actually innovating his teaching around an idea of open. I referenced him on numerous occasions on this blog, first in 2006 when I came across a presentation he had done on how he was changing his teaching around podcasting and blogging, where, by providing students with a lecture archive in advance, he was replacing his live lectures with hands-on workshop stuff. I’m not sure JC ever got credit for possibly being the first flipper of classrooms, and he didn’t stop there anyways, adding wikis to that mix which I blogged again in 2006, and then becoming well known in the organic chemistry community for his creation and development of Open Notebook Science. His huge accomplishments are captured quite succinctly in this short bio and it is a good launching pad for more info about his open work. And don’t pass up the comments on this 2007 Nature publication which is a bit of a time capsule read and captures so much of the open publishing discussion that is now familiar to us.
In 2009, I interviewed JC Bradley for a BCIT teaching and learning podcast series that I was kicking off centering on instructors doing innovative things with teaching and technology. The audio link is now broken, but I’ve reposted the edited version here. JC was an obvious choice for the inaugural podcast, and he graciously and generously let me record a 20 minute phone chat with him.
We spent the first part of the conversation talking about the francophone community in Ontario, where he was from, our linguistic misadventures in Paris (where he did a post-doc) and his love for the CBC. At around the 7′ mark he starts talking about how he navigated away from the LMS in favour of wikis and podcasts and the blogs:
“…most of the course management systems are designed for keeping people out and I’m trying to make my material as open as possible. For me, it’s actually easier to use a public wiki, a public blog, because those are designed to actually be open, and they’re quickly indexed in Google and I get all those advantages…”
At the 10′ mark he talks about how working openly has allowed him to meet several of his current research collaborators, citing this as one of the key advantages. It’s incredible to think about this conversation in a 2009 context, especially since he was already on this path in 2006. UPDATE: There’s a great transcript of an interview with him from 2010 about his whole approach to open notebook science, open publishing, and even patents.
But what struck me most about my conversation with JC Bradley is how much he seemed to be an ego-free, enthusiastic advocate for doing something differently in a way that benefitted his students and his discipline. I wished we could have crossed paths in person, had a beer, and continued this conversation.