Mariana F., a friend from DS106 and beyond, posted a very powerful piece called “A Human OER” that is worth your time and careful attention. In her post, she examines the idea of open education and tries to pierce through the facade of the idea of creating a perfect learning environment. It’s more than that, but this thread of her blog post is what I was thinking about.
Her hope is that we find more humanity in the connections even as we acknowledge the ways that spaces like MOOCs and others often fall short of those ideals. Real world problems come into those spaces. And if we close the doors to those ideas and people with those views — those who would disrupt the world and cause harm to others, through words or actions — then we are not really creating a true educational space.
Her post is not negative, per se. In fact, she makes it clear that she is always hopeful for the best.
Gardner Campbell did a nice response, shifting into the direction of leadership and ownership, and collaboration, and therefore, responsibility, of those working and learning inside online spaces to become what they want their learning environment to be, even if they don’t quite know or believe they are ready for it yet.
Both Mariana and Gardner got me thinking. I have participated in a fair number of online spaces, and helped facilitate a few, and one of the things I see connected with the trend of “large numbers starting/small numbers finishing” is the closing of the circle. As the crowd of people interacting gets fewer, the shared ethos of that tribe becomes clearer, and as a result, the echo chamber effect can take hold. We all end up validating our own ideas. We all agree with each other. We love hanging out with those whose values are close to ours. This is natural. But it impacts online learning spaces, right?
I don’t have any magic solutions here. If we want rich discussions, we have to be open to people who disagree with us, or push us to think different about what we believe. The promise of open educational spaces remains great and powerful, and well worth the many experimentations that are going on across the board. Learning can be approached from many different angles, and access and diversity and multiple entry points are one of the keys to allowing everyone to feel as if they are both the leaders and the participants, and that the rich possibilities are always within reach on the horizon.
or, you know, something like that …
One of the things I have liked about the Daily Connect with the Connected Courses is that one can bring more people into the conversations with only the smallest connection to Connected Courses. You can reach out beyond that circle. I see Daily Connect on a good day being that very web metaphor we use for the Web, with strands of connected silk pushing out beyond our peripheral vision.
Peace (in the think),