We are all Connected – FNMI and Open Learning

I want to apologize for my late (tardy) post. I live in Calgary, and although my house was not directly affected by the flood, I can assure you that everyone in Calgary is adversely affected by the flooding. I also had to put together a presentation for EdMedia (in Victoria- shortened trip) closed schools and a vicious cold. So – I have been “out of the loop” – or so I thought…..

Life hit me hard this week – but my readings, and the emphasis on connections and systemic learning supported me throughout the week.

As I said – my “place” received no damage from the flooding. However, my “place” is more than just my house. A city is a system of interconnected parts. So, when one system is being pushed beyond its boundaries – it  integrates into other parts of the system. The difficult thing is – some of the impact from the flood is obvious – when the water has spread you can see it. It’s where you can’t see it – but you can feel it, or see signs of distress and discomfort.

It has been a week since the flood. I turned to social media last Thursday night, because I could “feel” something wasn’t right. (That energy was off – as mentioned in the Kawagley & Barnhardt  reading).  I turned to my network (online community) for support. I found it odd that the educators I knew (in my PLN personal learning environment) were all tweeting and looking out for each other. When the behaviour of too many people is odd you start to pay attention even more!  After we “found” each other, we started talking about our homes, our schools (workplaces) and other special places that concerned us – and we starting tweeting how scared we were. In exhaustion – we went to sleep with our phones by our beds and woke up to the flood.

Twitter felt like  safe “shelter” in a storm in order to connect.

We awoke on Friday to more rain, fear, schools closed, roads closed, confusion, communities evacuated, chaos, buildings were evacuated…and on and on….After one day of waiting…the flooding finally stopped.

And then by Saturday – the community rose up and supported each other. For me – what had started on twitter… passed onto the streets where thousands volunteered to help. Through twitter (not Global News) I learned about the colossal impact the flooding had on the local Bow Valley Reserves – and I was able to tweet about how to support Morley and other nations.

But even though I couldn’t get to my computer to focus on my school work, I “spontaneously” (and perhaps rhizomatically as described by Dave Cormier) discovered my First Nations online course being “taught” in different ways – not just through the LMS (Learning Management System). Learning is everywhere – if you see it :)

I discovered the twitter chat,  #cdnedchat which had decided to focus on a  First Nations education topic on Monday night. I was able to engage in a great conversation and connect with other educators thinking about FNMI education and the integration of technology. We even set up a future google hangout! Although late on Tuesday, I made it to the #Edmedia conference and I was able to present. I was able to connect with some supportive learners who “naturally” listened to my comments about floods – open learning and Indigenous education- I am truly grateful I had the chance to “flood with you” (Scott Leslie, Alec Couros and Jason Toal to name a few…..) There I also met Jeni Henrickson who works with some amazing people from Minnesota doing some incredible work called, “Adventure Learning” where students can track educators exploring the North, learn though people living in the North, and learn about the impact of climate changes from around the world). Here’s one of their many links: http://we-explore.com/ And Aaron’s TED Talk:

I am beginning to really think about the fact that I don’t need research, new pedagogical theory or new shiny tools to understand that traditional indigenous learning (all learning) is based on …the same premises as the African proverb – It takes a whole village to raise a child. It was humbling when I first started to really learn about aboriginal teachings and see the parallels between the open movement, (open educational resources, open learning, connectivism, constructivism, inquiry based learning, experiential learning ) which seems pretty much the same thing to me as saying- “share what you know!”.

So – as I see a bridge collapse with trains on it possibly plunging into the Bow River, I take a deep breath.

I know I won’t be going into the office today, I won’t be connecting for the playdate and I won’t worry about the “minor details”. I will stay safe, on my iceberg and start collecting water and food for the nearby reserves and communities who are directly in the line of the water should the hazardous chemicals spill into the Bow Rover. I will tweet out that Morley needs more support – and if I can, I will head out this weekend with a shovel.

And I will know that my own kids are watching me and my actions – and there is nothing better that I can do than to support my community. They will learn that they have a part to contribute and that they are as just as important as every other person in this “village”. And that every tweet, shovel, warm embrace, warm home and kind word – will ultimately make the difference.

To think that this learning was there all along…..it took a lot of water to get us all to connect again – regardless of ethnic origin. I hope we are listening this time. And if someone came into the middle of all this support and tried to research it? I wonder what people would say? Would they want to be “examined” or would they just want to live?

Will the waters be strong enough to help our village learn together?

Verena :)

3 thoughts on “We are all Connected – FNMI and Open Learning

  1. A moving and cathartic piece. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life’s journey. My thoughts are with you and the work you are doing to support your expanded community.

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