Sharing Openly

Photo N¼: 00z35886 (1Mb)This week’s ePortfolio Forum in Canberra has prompted me to think about sharing openly personal stories about learning.
A post by Helen Blunden (shared with me by Darrell Cobner) encouraged me to think about What’s the Point of Sharing, Really? Helen wrote about “one of the lowest weeks” she had at work:

I left permanent work some years ago as I was tired of the constant corporate restructures which I find unproductive and mentally draining.  I figured that if I undertook fixed term contracts, I would not be involved in the internal politicking and the constant changes. Instead, I would be hired to do a job for a period of time where I could design, develop and implement the program – and have some control over the outcome of that program. Unfortunately, this week showed me that I was naive to think this way but it was the first time I felt that I was not in control of my own career.

This led Helen to question the point of being open or sharing her work online.
I am delighted that Helen discovered she was not alone in having these concerns. I was relieved to read at the end of her post “it’s hard for me to turn back now.  If anything, it’s time to ‘up the ante’”.
I noticed that Helen found Euan Semple’s discussion of radical transparency helpful. Euan concluded his post with this paradox:

The frequency with which we have to decide for or against openness has increased and the seriousness of the consequences of our decision, either way, has become greater. We need to get faster and more effective at collectively working out our societal responses to these challenges and, ironically, the only way we can do that is to be more open about them and better at working out together what to do for the greater good.

I like the idea that we read and share to know that we are not alone. I have two posts on Clyde Street tagged as radical transparency. I have thirteen posts tagged with reciprocal altruism. I do think the combination of transparency and altruism is a potent antidote to self doubt.
I see open sharing as a voluntary activity and understand that this sharing can go unnoticed and unremarked. I see the act and habit of open sharing akin to resourcing a treasure basket.
I think sharing has a profound play essence.
By serendipity, Stephen Downes shared a link in OLDaily to Miles Berry’s post on Friedrich Froebel which contained an excellent discussion of play. Miles related Froebel’s thinking to the pedagogy of computing. Miles is at the University of Roehampton. The University incorporates Froebel College … which is a delightful symmetry of now and then.
Miles points to the heuristic potential of Froebel’s view of:

The garden (“One of the things which set Froebel’s kindergartens apart from other schools of his day was the emphasis on providing children with an incredibly rich environment in which to learn, not so much through being taught as through purposeful exploration and discovery.”)

Building blocks (“Froebel came up with a sequence of gifts: carefully crafted and carefully sequenced collections of objects, from brightly coloured yarn balls through to complex construction sets.”)

Occupations (“Alongside the gifts, Froebel identified a number of occupations or activities as part of kindergarten education: these were creative things such as painting, drawing, origami and embroidery.”)

Play (“Froebel recognised the seriousness of children’s play, seeing it as their work.”)

Miles concludes his post with this observation:

Just as agile methods place individuals and interactions at the heart of the development process, so a personalised approach to education should place the child, and the child’s own enthusiasms, talents and character at the centre.

I do think that open sharing is afforded by enthusiasms, talents and character. Helen, Euan, Miles (and Friedrich in absentia) have lots in common (and with my guides Darrell and Stephen).
One aspect of this mix, fearlessness, was discussed in an Echo 360 post this week. The blog-admin post shares a link to twenty active learning case studies.
Another aspect is, I believe, access to critical friends interested in open sharing. Rhoni McFarlane discusses the role criticism plays in personal flourishing. She notes:

Granting opportunities for others to judge, respond or reflect on decisions or actions we have made makes us vulnerable. I always focus my energies on how this will help our students and this ensures I can move beyond any personal angst I might feel.

I imagine Rhoni and Helen will have lots to discuss about vulnerability and resilience.
Whilst working through some of these ideas, my Paper.Li aggregator brought me links to Gwyneth Jones’ Secrets of the Remix Mash-up Generation and Jane Hart’s The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013.
Whenever I feel low on energy, rather than reaching for a ‘sport drink’, I try to follow up something Gwyneth or Jane has written. Their open sharing inevitably takes me to a new resource or an innovative idea. Today Gwyneth led me to MentorMob and Jane to iSpring.
Open sharing is very important to me. I am not sure if this makes me a member of the millenial generation characterised by Dan Schawbel. He suggests that millenials see sharing as “a way to express their identities and a way to keep in touch with friends”.
My desire to share owes a great deal to my experiences of participation in CCK08. I am fascinated by self-organised learning and footprints of emergence.
I realise that open sharing is not for everyone and that each of us decides how transparent our learning journeys become. I am looking forward to this week’s ePortfolio Forum in Canberra to find out how others have addressed this transparency.
As Helen found from her visit to LearnX, meeting others with shared interests is very reassuring. I hope to share news of the day … openly.
Crowd @ Southbound 2013, Busselton WA

Photo Credits

You can write your own label (Paula Bray, CC BY NC-ND 2.0)
Sharing is Caring (Niklas Wikström, CC BY-NC 2.0)
Froebel College, Roehampton University (Becky, CC BY-NC 2.0)
Crowd @ Southbound 2013, Busselton WA (Michael Spencer, CC BY-NC 2.0)



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