Better late than never…

I hate being on the outside. I hate being left out. I hate participating in something when I feel like I lack foundational knowledge or understanding that could potentially aid me in participating in constructive dialogue – aka I hate not knowing or being unproductive (I am also extremely critical of my personal reflections of myself haha). So, I stepped away from OpenLearning19 this week – not out of anything against the cMOOC in anyway. On the contrary, I have discovered something great in it. Actually, better than great!  To channel Mezirow, I have been transformed. So I needed to think, explore, collect, and then, return to connect and contribute.

So, here I am. After a few weeks to read and Google, I have some conclusions. Actually, they are not conclusions. ‘Conclusion’ entails a sense of finality and it lacks growth potential for my ideas. After a two hour walk in which I gabbed incessantly to the serenity and silence of my husband’s nodding head (he’s a wonderful man), I have positioned myself in the ongoing dialogue about ‘Open.’ Vague… I know. Bear with me.
This blog entry is what I have gathered.

As a PhD student in instructional design and technology, ‘open’ affords me a space to design, develop, and discover the benefits of ‘openness’ in enhancing learning and teaching. David Wiley (Lumen Learning) touched on a more practical approach to open. He argues that change is not going to happen simply by conducting numerous workshops. While useful and educational, the advancement and adoption of open requires hand holding and connecting. It requires breaking down barriers and unlearning assumptions that we have relied on for centuries. We are trying to transform institutions that have thrived and survived in some cases since the 15th century.  “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is their victory song according to Rajiv S. Jiangiani (OPEN: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science). Institutions are designed to resist new ideas (ironically) (Robert Biswas-Diener, NOBA project). So, how do we shift or disassemble this organizational survival mechanism? In the words of E. Rogers, let’s be the change agents (The Diffusion of Innovations, 2003).

I can be a change agent! The fasted path to adoption is through shared networks. I can’t tell you how many times, I try something new or adopt a new practice because my knowledgeable and trustworthy friends told me it was a great idea and would benefit me. “Well, open is a great idea and you will benefit from it!!!” (It was worth a try…) But, seriously, faculty share and adopt teaching practices etc. based on what their trusted network has told them. On the other hand, I am studying in a discipline that aids in designing or directly designs the framework for learning experiences. I am an architect with more power than I thought possible which is evident from this past week’s video interviews with Autumm Caines and Christine Moskell – both instructional designers doing very different designing and support in the open. All I have to do in my career in higher education is start by showing faculty the promises of open and new connectivist (born from constructivist principles) approaches to learning. Additionally, I am poised to start research. What does the open movement lack in some respect that is the lynchpin in academic society’s standards (which needs to change but that’s another time and blog)? Academics love their empirical research and evidence, so I will be looking into that soon (I’ll keep you updated… promise.)

Also, I channel a bit of Robin DeRosa, who is doing incomparable work at Plymouth University and is a open education bad%$& – I hope I am aloud to say that!? I would not call her radical but to other academics still testing the waters, she is doing some radical things in the realm of open! From class created textbooks to a crowdsourced syllabus. She emphasizes the value of open pedagogy, open faculty development and policy whereby we support and enhance the higher ed system as it changes and transforms in the coming years – and mark my words, it is going to change whether it likes it or not. I am determined to get on board and help in the best way I know how – through my education.

To wrap things up, my life took a disruptive shift a few years back. I was working in insurance wondering how I ended up attached to my ball and chain. It was actually an Avaya call center headset and no, I was not selling you credit card insurance! I was in a cubicle hating everything I was doing. When, all of a sudden, I received notification that my yearly training modules were due (cue giant eye roll). I opened them, completed them, determined that they sucked, and always do. Then, I decided that I had nothing to lose. So, I went to inform my supervisor about the less that adequate quality of training provided (Corporate speak for “suck”). She looked at me and said, “You know what? I agree. But I can’t change it. You can though. Here’s the link for employee funding to return to school in Adult Education to be an instructional designer. You should do it and then apply for an internal job in training and development.” Three years later, I completed the BA part-time while hating my job a little less. I didn’t apply for an internal job. Instead, I left the company because I wanted more. I fell in love with my ability as an instructional designer to not teach or learn but assist in developing teaching and learning – to change how knowledge is delivered in an empowering way. And, so here I am!

‘Open’ Pedagogy

First, the interview with Pomerantz led me to read “50 Shades of Open” and I am utterly perplexed – not about the content just as to what I thought ‘open’ was as of last week. I find my understanding has deepened but also changed … yet again (yay, learning!). Pomerantz and Peek depict many aspects of what it means to be ‘open’ and I find that ‘openness’ is defined by the context of use – as in what, how, where, what purpose, which makes the term ‘open’ much more fluid and even more difficult to pin down. It actually reminds me of my own area of study currently. Instructional Design and Technology has struggled to define itself and still does today – are we educational technology, technological instruction, educational design, instructional technology? (and so on…) Academics find that the terminology shifts and changes depending on the context much like ‘open.’ This confusion is not a bad thing, it just gets you thinking more and more and around in circles about specificity or the impacts of this ambiguity (both positive and negative).

Second, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Dr. Rob Blair. His Democracy Erosion course was a great example of open-style collaborative learning. I am a huge fan of constructivist learning approaches and I can see great potential in the collaborative techniques used in this course design – recommended it to my husband for use! More so, I was intrigued by the design aspect of this course as an instructional designer. I would love to look deeper into the design choices, philosophical underpinnings of design, and design strategies that are used to develop cMOOCs. Instructional designers argue that the design mechanisms and not the delivery system itself is the key to optimal achievement of learning outcomes … would be interesting to see how this stands in these new connectivist scenarios.

Last, open pedagogy is interesting from an instructional designer’s (ID) perspective as it is, from what I gathered, experiential learning. Much literature argues that experiential learning/discovery learning is the key to contextualizing real-world problem solving. Learners develop a better sense of their ability to solve real-world problems or learn new information when it is contextualized and the learning is directly experienced – we can better understand and connect to prior knowledge that we have when our learning is situated. So why not situate it within a crowd of various-minded learners who directly construct and experience the learning together – a crowd whereby the ‘professor’ is the facilitator or does not exist in the traditional sense. Instead, learner guidance is provided by our peers. It also brings people together to discuss and collaboratively work on real issues (education with more purpose!) There are just so many interesting angles to look at as an ID.

Open Access

So this week’s open learning activities ran parallel to my personal start into investigation of a potential topic for my PhD (Needless to say, I am overwhelmed but academically so it is a good thing).  My ideas are running rampant and so is my anxiety haha but they tend to fuel one another so I cannot really complain.

As for this week’s topic, I am frustrated. I have much to learn and that is more than apparent. However, my frustration is … why does higher education cling to the remnants (and they are remnants – the way we do things are changing whether we like it or not) of past traditionalist research views and publishing methods. This whole “forward-thinking” side of me has only just developed on this end! I liked my old ways and I still do but they are becoming irrelevant and one thing I hate even more than change is being left behind and consequently irrelevant – so here I am! I’m extremely uncomfortable but I am more excited despite my discomfort. Now that I have educated myself on the way the digital age works and I better understand it, I feel like the guy in the Matrix when he took the pill – oh, the possibilities! The power of crowd and connectivity is incomprehensible! So, how do we get other people on board (without forcing or bribing them LOL)?

I leave you with this, we ran out of time with Peter Suber earlier this week but I am interested in what people have to say… I wanted to ask, “How do we encourage a move of higher education from conventional methods of publishing to OA? (not to mention a complete rework of the education framework of incentives, etc.) My question comes from reading Robert A. Reiser’s (2001) A History of Instructional Design and Technology (Part I & II). He tells of the unfortunate inability of education to adopt and allow technologies to reach their full potential. Academia never seems to use them to their full potential and they eventually fall by the wayside. How can we circumvent this?

Let’s give them something to talk about…

Okay, so that wasn’t so bad! Actually, it was great. Annotation is basically what I do normally in pdf form on journal articles for my research – so it came naturally. Plus, I like to think and talk so I may have found my outlet. I apologize (because I am Canadian and it is the polite thing to do!) ahead of time. I just write down my thoughts and ideas- and, I promise, you all will get used to my lengthy babbling ideas. The strange part was knowing that it was no longer private. It did involve some self-policing of how and what I chose to say but I attempted to keep it as open and vulnerable as possible – this is me and what I think and people are going to disagree (in which I can gain understanding) or agree (in which I can gain understanding). So, I see participating as transparently as possible as a benefit to developing a better me (and who doesn’t like that???).

Another interesting part of this exercise which peaked my interest was the possibilities of annotations. I come from a Canadian university that back in the early 2000s made the seminar system the only mode of learning for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students to shift away from traditional lecture forms. Seminars gathered in groups of usually 10-15 learners in which the students (me!) were responsible for reading and discussing our way through the material together. The leader of the seminar was only known as a facilitator and gave us guidance from time to time but otherwise, was silent and observant. Eventually, we also facilitated the seminars as well. Annotations remind me of this process but in a new environment. Actually, the entire cMOOC experience reminds me of this so far. Its constructing and building a network of knowledge based on personal understanding and meanings – I find it really cool (plus, I can sit in my pjs with mug of coffee while I learn! Shhh, don’t tell anyone!)


Well, this brings new meaning to adult education! I am currently endeavoring to add myself to a cMOOC hub and … “third time is a charm” or “try, try, try again!” haha. So here I go – *fingers crossed*

A new beginning…

I’ve started into the world of blogging – late. But, better late than never! I have started a new journey as a PhD student. I ask myself, “What have I done?” constantly. However, when I take part in on-campus activities such as VT’s Open Education Symposium, I realize that I know exactly what I have done: Developed a blog and joined a cMOOC (a little crazy for me but, I “press” on!). Looking forward to engaging in the world of Open Learning 19!