I am pumped! I am now officially a Ontario Extend Empowered Educator! Seriously, if you are an educator in the Ontario Postsecondary field, do yourself a big favour and check out Ontario Extend. I cannot say enough good things about my experiences in this professional development project from eCampusOntario.
I won’t say that is was easy because there were moments that I really struggled but it was worth it. I see changes in my thinking and practice daily. Sometimes, I pause because some of these changes have become automatic like adding Alt text to photos and finding Creative Commons licensed materials to share. Others are more subtle like becoming comfortable about being working in the open and considering how I can be a partner to those around me.
And I am not done yet! I plan to be an Extender for life and to continue to build on this experience. Not to mention, I think there are more activities to do in the Domain Camp and of course, every day there is a Daily Extend to tackle!
As I reflection on the history of open education, I think about my own progression to this point. I started learning in typical school settings deciding that I was done with traditional education in the early 2000s. For work purposes, I completed two post-grad certificates in Learning Disabilities Specialities through Cambrian College which was 90% online (and distances education for me) with two practicum requirements to be completed with a mentor.
In the years following, I became unsatisfied with the professional development opportunities offered to me and I began looking for my own. I completed some more distance courses for a fee and started hearing about MOOCs. I joined my first MOOC in 2012 and completed Gamification with Kevin Werbach @kwerb who also happens to be the first person I followed in Twitter. I have completed more MOOCs with Coursera and FutureLearn (my favorite platform) from education institutions in Canada, US and UK.
During the same period, I also pursued other learning online through blogs, websites and videos. I am also a gamer and began to create instructional videos for my fellow players in 2015. While I do not have many followers, my videos have been viewed in 122 countries. This and the experience of taking courses at universities in other countries through MOOCs opened my eyes to the idea of learning that can stretch over boundaries.
While I may not have all the definitions right, I see a connect between distance education, e-learning and MOOCs as having brought me to the point that I am interested in learning more about open learning for myself and that has started me thinking more about open education at my own institution and how I can contribute to that.
Making Sense of Open Education: Day 2 Building an Open Community – today’s learning centered on understanding a Community of Practice (CoP) and ways to find one. This connects neatly with my professional development efforts using OntarioExtend and my beginning development of a Professional Learning Network (PLN).
Let me begin by saying that I am very new at this. I have been working on my PLN for five weeks using Twitter. I am still sorting out what it is that I might be able to contribute.
In the readings, there were two aspects that struck a chord with me. In discussing the challenges of CoPs, Hayman pointed out that:
“If you are a marginalized person in your local context and/or workplace, if you feel like your opinions and voice are not valued, joining a new community can feel very risky.” Making Sense of Open Education Day 2 by Jenni Hayman is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license
I hesitate to admit that I am a marginalized person because there is a potential backlash for even saying so. I am a faculty member, as outlined in our Collective Agreement, but because I work in Student Services, I am often discounted by faculty who teach in the classroom. Part the reason is the structures we work under where faculty who teach are in the Academic Sector and faculty (generally counsellors and librarians) in the Student Services are in another sector. When surveys or registrations require you to “pick a school,” faculty like me who are school-less, cannot be heard or participate (unless you complain). When information is disseminated by schools, I don’t hear about it. Because faculty who teach are the majority, the professional development opportunities are geared to their needs. This and other experiences leave me feeling as an other.
I struggle to not feel like an other in Open Education professional development experiences as well because I don’t teach in a traditional sense. I do small-scale teaching with one time workshops, training tutors, seminars and other out-of-class experiences for students. I work on pilot projects that don’t fit anywhere else but this could mean that I have more opportunities to be open.
So yes, joining a new community feels very risky! I don’t know if I will be accepted or if I have something to offer and I don’t want to just take from the community. But at the same time, being new to this PLN building, I have found lurking to be a good strategy.
“It’s also completely okay (you don’t need anyone’s permission) to observe the course and the behaviours and communication of others in the course as part of your learning. This is sometimes called “lurking” in the online teaching and learning environment, but it’s not a very positive term. Observing (as many new-to-something learners do) is a valuable activity in the learning process.” Making Sense of Open Education Day 2 by Jenni Hayman is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license
I am learning a lot by observing including how to participate, what kinds of things to post, how to respond to posts, and what the social norms are like in this online community. At the same time, I am finding thought leaders to follow, organizations of interest, technology I can use, sources of OER and lots of information about Open Education. Oh yea, and I am learning to blog too!
I am participating in a 15 day MOOC on Open University called Making Sense of Open Education and part of the learning is an activity to complete for each day. This is my first discussion post entry, repeated here so that I can tweet it!
Happy Day 1 fellow Open Education Learners!
For my submission, I found a video about Open Education that explained how one might use OER to learn:
I still feel that I am very new to Open Education and I would like to learn more about finding OER as well as understanding Open licensing. I want to learn about adapting OER and especially how material with different licenses can and cannot work together.
AND if I can find a few new friends along that way, that would be good too!
PLN Warrior’s superpower is harnessing the web to create a personal learning NETwork of like-minded heros who will work to build and defend an open learning environment that seeks to benefit all! We are just a few days into #ExtendWest and I am already seeing the benefits of having a personal learning network with the tool of Twitter. It is energizing and nourishing. However, I am seeing that to benefit and to be a benefit to others, you have to go in with a superhero mind-set.
The superhero mind-set is this idea that I will use my gifts and talents, my skills and knowledge to help other by sharing and encouraging and I will accept others’ gifts and talents and encouragement to become better. A superhero works to make the world better, not just for themselves, but for everyone.
A superhero also needs a nemesis and I believe the nemesis is that the open learning movement is a privilege. As Amira Dhalla discusses in her blog post The Dangers of Being Open, “being open is actually elite.” And if that is true, we need to work to make it not elite and not only open to the privileged. I am just starting out, I am a baby or a novice superhero, so I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I don’t even have all the questions, but I am starting with committing to being open and inclusive and to face the potential dark underbelly open learning.