Thoughts on Open Education

What are your thoughts so far on open & networked learning?

I had a chance to participate in this class 3 years ago and it was structured much the same as it is now.  As a person who was taking part as a non credit student I enjoyed the class, now as a person who is actually taking the class for credit I’m less sure.  I have documented some of my struggles with Social networks and using an online network for anything other than social reasons.  I have been reading my colleagues blogs and haven’t had much to say as I have different interests and concerns surrounding this technology.  I feel bad that I haven’t been participating more but I don’t really know what to say in response to other people’s posts.

What are the pros and cons of this type of learning experience?

Pros: We have access to experts in the Educational Technology and can get feed back from our classmates.

Cons: For myself I wanted to take this class because I was hoping I would gain some insight into how things are progressing in terms of social media but it seems like we are just looking at things that I have been using off and on/have had access to for a few years.  It feels like if technology is moving as fast as people say it is that things should be different already.

How can we improve this learning experience?

What I be interested in is looking at the communities that are formed and how they become prevalent and then how they get integrated into people’s daily lives or get tossed away.  Even some of the negative things that come out of the use of Social Networks whether it is from /b/ or various people using them for their own benefit at the expense of others.  It is these stories that will allow us to mentor our students to see when people are trying to take advantage of them.  I find the networks themselves interesting and not just in the context of education but the tools themselves.

Does any of this inform the way you teach or learn (or could/should teach and learn)?

Yes and no.  Alec has been a good example on how teacher/professor can make their classroom open.  It hard for me to give my students the same access to myself and the tools we use in the classroom as they are so specialized.  I know that I am absolutely spoiled with the amount of technology that my students and I have access to that it provides a barrier to us working outside of the classroom.


About mrthejud

I'm a teacher at Greenall High School in Saskatchewan.
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4 Responses to Thoughts on Open Education

  1. Giulia says:

    Thank you for your honest responses. As someone supposed to be a ‘mentor’, I have been a bit overwhelmed with the level of participation everyone is bringing to this course that I have been suffering stage fright when it comes time to actually comment.
    I suppose I should say that I find your efforts and those of your classmates commendable but also completely daunting.
    I, too, have had difficulty responding to many of the bloggers, not because they aren’t really insightful, but ironically, because they are so insightful. Also, there have been numerous responses, and in some cases very high profile people responding and commenting. What more could my two cents offer?
    I completely understand when you say you ‘struggle’ using social networks for anything other than social reasons. I guess it comes down to how well you can categorize yourself and I have a hard time drawing distinctions between my professional self and my social self. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, someone posts a hilarious BBC talking animals video and I digress.
    Speaking of digression, I did want to tell you I really enjoyed your carpet bombing South Park video last week.
    So…can we be facebook friends now?

  2. Lisa M Lane says:

    Jud, you wrote “I was hoping I would gain some insight into how things are progressing in terms of social media but it seems like we are just looking at things that I have been using off and on/have had access to for a few years. ”

    I would love some clarification on this, and what you want out of the class. I am having similar concerns and am finding that my own research and interests can be made to dovetail with what we’re doing. I was hoping for more about the context of these tools, particularly as there is so much arguing going on about the impact of media on the people using them, and many new arguments being made against the use of these technologies. I’m reading Nicholas Carr and Jason Lanier – would they interest you? do you mean you wanted to know more about new technologies or about social impact?

    • mrthejud says:

      A little bit of both Lisa. It really feels like it is a one or the other thing so:

      1. New Technologies: I would love to see some of the innovating things coming out so we can start to find context for them in our education and start to integrate them into our learning networks etc. But for the most part we have been using blogs which have been around for years, twitter which has been around for the last 3 and a wiki as our main points of social context. The first time I participated in the class they did a session in second life as that was big at that time along with trying other tools to communicate instead of a focus on what it is like to be a part of the community. I realize that there are some in the class that haven’t been a part of a community like this so it is a great experience for them. In terms of technology I like watching things get pushed forward. Like I mentioned above if technology is moving at such a break neck pace everything should be different by now and we should be looking at tools that are trying to change things.

      2. Social Impact: This is the section of things that I find more interesting. I have always been fascinated by subcultures which come into the mainstream and then out. Social media’s constant change allows us to see these rises and falls over a relatively small period of time so you can watch these rises and falls as they go. More interesting though it seems is whether students being able to belong to so many subcultures changes how they function in their real space social environment. Or how the mentality that they get on certain spaces changes how they function in the classroom.

      There are so many questions that I have surrounding the students we have (not that I’m terribly far removed from where they are at) and how their online lives impact education. Every video on web 2.0 programs only states that they are different and not how. The videos say make your classroom more open but never say why or how this is beneficial to the student. I was hoping for a bit more a critical look at everything that is happening in social media.

      As for those two authors, I haven’t read anything by them but I will start and let you know. I hope I answered your questions Lisa. Thank you for your comment.

      What kind of context are you looking for in terms of social media?

      • Lisa M Lane says:

        Jud, I’m thinking we could suggest to Alec that we take these two topics and use them somehow for a couple of our synchronous sessions.

        For the tools, I have noticed a slow-down and consolidation of web 2.0 tools over the last year or so. Many of the tools have disappeared, while others became the “leaders” (i.e. Diigo, Glogster, Delicious, etc.). In trying to find a way to track my own comments, I was able to find only one surviving tool (coComments) when there used to be several. The “new” stuff seems to be related mostly to data visualization.

        I just attended the New Media Consortium’s Symposium of the Future, held in SL. Their program now has links to audio and slides of the sessions if you’re interested. I noticed that there, also, it was not so much about the tools but about the use of those tools (see Ruben Puentedura’s session in particular, about visualizing data). There seems to have been a shift.

        In looking at the “why” of doing this, I have read many books and articles on implementing web 2.0 technologies into teaching, and the claims have been extraordinary. Cynically, I have noticed that the sample sizes for studies claiming student achievement have been very, very small. What the research seems to actually show, instead, is increased student engagement. I have come to the conclusion that the basic utility of web 2.0 for education is in the affective domain. The connectivists will counter me on this, as would those doing current brain studies (that’s why I thought you might want to read Carr).

        For our students, I have been interested to see ideas like “net generation” being discredited. Check out Mark Bullen’s Net Gen Skeptic blog. What our students are doing is using this technology for social connection, and it is the rare (though very hyped) case that a student creates his/her own learning using the web. That’s my take, mind you, not the “official” one of those touting web use for education.

        We should indeed be discussing the social context of these technologies. If we could articulate better what we mean by this (and I think you and I mean the same thing), we could put together our own discussion and make it part of the class, if you’re interested.

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