Monday, June 30, 2014

Layers of Openness

I wasn't able to blog last week and now there are so many things I want to talk about: layers of openness, teaching as caring, natural pedagogy, open pedagogy, use of humor, RUBRIC, teaching styles, collective IQ, posting first drafts as a request for comments, and so many other things. My thought vectors are shooting in every direction. I need to turn these internal monologues into a dialogue (I feel like I'm talking with someone when I blog), so I will keep blogging after UNIV 200 ends--this is the beauty of a truly open online course.

I'll start with the layers of openness...

I recently watched Ecologies of Yearning--the keynote Gardner Campbell gave at the Open Education 2012 Conference. The talk really spoke to me this time, but even more, it touched me deeply because it beautifully framed my experience with openness in Thoughtvectors. Here is a powerful quote from the talk: 

... feeling at home in the world, knowing in the depths of one's being that one has a real place in the home of the world.

How does open education make you feel?   How do we want learners to feel when we open up education? How do I feel in this course?

When we ask these questions, we immediately shift the focus of open education from product to process. Audrey Watters has a really nice post reflecting on this:

[Openness is] process, not product after all. It’s not so much the what we learn but the how and the who with and the why we do so. As Campbell suggested in his keynote this morning, it’s not so much about “open” as an adjective to describe education; rather it’s “opening” as a verb to describe what we must do. What we want students, learners, all of us, to do.

In my research proposal, I had argued that openness is not simply a property of digital content--it is also a pedagogical worldview, a stance on educational activity. Then based on Cormier and Siemens (2010), I described openness as the transparency of educational activity. Now three weeks into Thoughtvectors I feel like openness can be much more than that. It can be an opening, as Gardner Campbell argues, an opportunity, a warm welcome to be part of a learning community. It can be hospitality. It can be a genuine interest in the learner experience.

In a recent article on connected learning, Philipp Schmidt said:

There are many good reasons why we have focused on young people. It's easier to make a difference to someone's life if they are just starting out, if they haven't already fallen behind because they lack access to good schools or other opportunities. And, as everyone who works with children will confirm, it is also very rewarding. Seeing how your work makes a young person's eyes light up is a wonderful experience. Working with adult learners on the other hand is often harder, messier, and less likely to succeed.

I need to think more about this, but I feel strongly about what open education might mean for adult learners, because, I believe, when adults see an opening, they have the amazing ability to persevere under the most challenging conditions and be successful. I'll talk more about this in my next post. 

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