I am still thinking and reflecting about what “Open Learning is all about”….
I have been thinking more about the variations of “open”…and perhaps @OpenContent and @FredWBaker can add to my thoughts (Thanks your comment earlier Fred).
I am now beginning to think of “Open Learning” in three distinct areas: Open Content/ Resources (OER), Open Pedagogy and Open Leadership. My recent experiences at the Beyond Content Conference #opened12, challenged my thinking on what we (as educators) are really trying to mean when we say, “open learning”. What does open learning “look like” to you?
Gardner Campbell captured my interest on the first day with his fantastic – must be watched and listened to key note address. “That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.” (TS Eliot) Campbell alluded to the widespread “free” content online, MOOCs – and their subsidiaries (of which I am a one) and other examples of “open” learning opportunities. But he kept coming back to, “ That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.” (TS Eliot)
What? Well what did you mean then? And who is the I? Am I getting this all wrong on the first day I wondered?
What is open learning and what does it mean to me? What does it look like – to me?
My thoughts on open learning are that it can lead to opportunities that a person did not otherwise have before. If you have the passion, you, as a human being, should have the opportunity. That’s what I think open learning is all about.
Now – how do I create an “opportunity” for “open opportunities” for a k12 community.
I am creating a “program” at ADLC. The “OC@ADLC” – The Open Classroom at Alberta Distance Learning Centre.
Within this “Open Classroom” I have to start somewhere, so I have decided to start with students over 14. Students at this age are already experimenting online and are legally allowed to register for more online software providers. Up until this point, any “open” learning should (yes I said should) be teacher guided. The teacher can create amazing “walled gardens” within the learning environment as proven by teachers Kathy Cassidy @kathycassidy http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org/ , Silvia Tolisano @langwitches http://www.langwitches.org/blog , Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.ca/ or Kim Gill @Gill_Ville http://digifoot12.wikispaces.com/Week+2+-+Tweet+Me
My point is, there are many examples of amazing “open learning” examples happening in k-6 which are teacher guided.
These teachers have led the way in helping me consider why their learning is “open”.
Characteristics of Open Learning: (Based on exemplary k6 Teachers)
1) Free and open access to resources
2) Willing to collaborate
3) Open Mobile Access (I can “see” artifacts on a variety of platforms)
4) Transparent tone and means of communication
5) Give credit to their sources
6) Open to feedback (peer review)
7) Approachable – able to connect with them
8) Focused on learning and the students
So – to focus on “open Learning” I need to have a more systemic approach, and I can’t do it my myself.
As a result, for me open learning is separated into three categories in which the “open learning characteristics” are apparent.
Where have I seen these characteristics and how have I tried to apply within my organization?
Open Leadership – I have communicated with my administrators about how to approach cultural change and paradigm shifts within our organization. How can I develop new open courses, while still supporting and challenging our “regular” courses? As a “teacher leader” I need to offer PD sessions to my school and to a broader audience, write on my blog and reflect, connect with my PLN and engage others with my ideas.
AND – I also need to listen to others and be empathetic. Just because I want open learning, does not mean that others feel the same way. I can only model “how” to be an open leader and try to emulate the characteristics of the k-6 “open Educators”.
At a recent conference I was in awe as my administrator took out Evernote, linked his notes to twitter and responded to others when they connected with him on twitter. He was demonstrating open leadership characteristics and modelling that everyone (our immediate staff and anyone on twitter) could have an opportunity to “learn” what he was learning.
Open Content – Open Content the area, in my opinion, that has had the most attention. How to create free and open eBooks, online courses, develop and use OER and consider CC (Creative Commons) licensing. However – this is still a weak area in k12 learning environments today and there is a lot of potential in development, research and projects. @rbyrne Richard Byrne’s timely blogpostyesterday is evidence of the need to consider “how” K12 are could use open content. I spent time yesterday working on a LiveBinder of OER for ALDC inspired by @kfasimpaur http://www.livebinders.com/edit/index/632119
Open Pedagogy – “How” are we learning online? Are there a variety of instructional designs for open online courses? Are MOOCs really the answer? How can opportunities to learn in free and open ways – focused on student choice – be created online?
These are the options we are focusing on in TheOC@ADLC this year:
Option 1: “MOOClike” option
(Based on work of Siemens, Downes and Cormier)
Massive Open Online Course focused on connectivism, networking and interaction and collaboration among networks. (Synchronous, Cohort)
At the moment, we are about to pilot a Digital Citizenship themed open online courses in The OC (#BeyondFacebook – end of November/12). Over three days, “learners” will be involved in collaborative groups projects that will lead to student created content- open online courses. Students (and educators) will work together in interdisciplinary, intergenerational groups to complete “parts” of a project. On the last day, the “learners” will present their creations to the world (using social media) and the projects will all come together to create one open online course for all. These courses will be open to any High School student or Educator in the world. Students will be offered badges for their work which could lead to possible dual credit (if they are an Albertan) or certificates and badges.
Option 2: Closed “Course” with Open Content and Open Connections/Networks.
(Based on work of Alec Couros) (Synchronous, Cohort)
We are also hoping to work on a pilot with a project like the Kaleidoscope Project. 20 ADLC students, 20 College students and 4 teachers will work together to investigate the “Keystone Pipeline/ Northern Gateway Pipeline” and its implications on our environments. Using an Inquiry based approach, students will ask questions and collaborate to create a project that blends politics, geography and science. The students will be offered English and science credit in this “inquiry” based open online project. In this case, the course will be limited to a set number of students, but anyone can watch the course be built as all content will be open and online and outside networking and participating is encouraged, especially with any Pipeline stakeholders.
Option 3: Open Content in an Open Platform for Autonomous Learners
(Based on the work of Alan Levine and MIT) ( Asynchronous, autonomous)
Finally – we will be working on our OER (Open Educational Resources) – and developing a website/.portal for “creation and innovation”. This will not have any defined coursework, but instead a portal for “creation and innovation”. Students can create projects and attain dual credit or “badges” based on competencies for their work. This will be based on the #ds106 course and scratch.
Option 4: Open Content in a Closed Online Course
(Based on the work of David Christian – similar to Flat Classrooms) (Asynchronous, Independent)
This option focuses on how to integrate OER (Open Educational Resources) into closed environments and will be developed with a specific group of asynchronous students. There will be open content, but limited open access. However,the students will connect to other students within the “walled garden” course around the world and the teacher will have the option to encourage “open” pedagogy including connecting through social media. Although – nothing is stopping the students from going outside the course by themselves, the teacher is just not facilitating the learning “outside” the the course itself.
The assessment will be based on a credit system within ADLC.
These four different options of open online learning will be offered to meet the greatest number of students in the widest variety of ways.
So – which model do you think will be the most successful and why?
Does it matter which is the most successful?
What factors will determine success?
Which option could you see yourself implementing into your classroom?
Which model best represents your learning style?
What are the other “open learning” models?
Looking forward to your feedback!