Creating our own spaces

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It has been a fascinating week for reading and reflecting on shared links.

It started with Kurt Lindley’s exploration of social capital. In his post he discusses the sharing of stories and the emergence of trust. I think it is a great contribution to how we might connect and co-operate in learning environments. Kurt encouraged me to reflect on how prosocial learning environments can be enabled so that “social capital inheres in the structure of relations between actors and among actors” (James Coleman, 1988, p.98).

The following day an alert from Stephen Downes introduced me to Heather Ross and her discussion of open educational practices. Her literature review (2015) discusses:

  • What open education means in current contexts.
  • What problems the integration of open educational materials may help negate
  • What barriers may be impeding the adoption of such materials
  • Who the stakeholders are and what their roles are in the integration of open materials and practices.

Heather’s paper proposed a embedded case study of open educational resources (OER) in a Canadian University in order to “better understand why some instructors are adopting open educational practices while others are not at the university as the institution is facing pressure from student leaders and the provincial government to move forward on an OER initiative” (2015, 22).

A day after meeting Heather, another link from Stephen took me off to an Alan Levine post. Alan was discussing connected courses.

Alan suggests:

the ideal kind of connected course should work- just like the way the internet works, a distributed network of connections, a place that no entity owns outright, and where individuals create and own their small nodes within.

These courses can be enriched by students being physically together with teachers: “There is interaction, body language, conversations that I suggest have value. And they get the added benefit of the input of those open participants”.

Elsewhere on Clyde Street, I have referred to Alan’s use of ‘structured exposure‘. In this exposure teachers and students work together in a classroom that morphs into a studio in which students work creatively supported by teachers in shared and personal endeavour. In the process everyone is engaged in a craft environment.

Kurt, Heather and Alan had positioned me in a very good place to enjoy Maciej Cegłowski’s discussion of deep-fried data. In his wistful conclusion, Maciej shares his dream for the web “to feel like a big city”:

A place where you rub elbows with people who are not like you. Somewhere a little bit scary, a little chaotic, full of everything you can imagine and a lot of things that you can’t. A place where there’s room for chain stores, room for entertainment conglomerates, but also room for people to be themselves, to create their own spaces, and to learn from one another.

I think his article is a remarkable tour de force but the ending connected me with a week of reading and a decade of thinking about how we might work together openly to support each others as learners … entangled.

Photo Credit

Connections (Ricardo Torres Kompen, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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