Week 5 – Being / becoming open

Again, I could not attend the webinar so I share my reflections here, especially regarding the five dimensions of openness, and the risks of making something open without proper support.

So first my self-reflection in the light of the five dimensions:

  1. Sharing own content: I’m happy to share own content, e.g. tasks that I use in my teaching. I also quite often ask colleagues to share their ideas and good practices with me so I think it’s part of a mutually beneficial cooperation.
  2. Encouraging students to share: in my courses, most of assignments are open to the study group at least so students can read others’ posts and learn from them, but I also encourage students to share their work in their blog if they wish (I never make it compulsory, though). The only assignment which is by default cannot be open to the study group is the reflective learning diary which is the summary of one’s learning path in the course, and might include quite personal and sensitive issues. I at least mention to students that sharing some parts of their reflective diary with peers can be useful (as it can start conversation which gives birth to new ideas).
  3. Sharing research data: I’ve shared the anonymized rough transcripts of the corpus of my Ph.D. dissertation (without voice or visuals to secure anonymity). Other than that, I haven’t made any bugger data set public to researchers. It is pretty challenging in my field since in ethnographic research you encounter and record (narratives of) quite sensitive situations that cannot be made open in any way. Further, I work a lot with visuals as well (I also teach visual ethnography) which means locations and people can be identified from materials. So I need to be extra super strict not to share anything my participants wouldn’t want to share themselves with the whole world…
  4. Using open educational resources: now that my job includes the continuous development of a study specialization and its courses (in a team, of course), I continuously browse for open sources, and adapt them to the purposes of such courses (if licence makes it possible).
  5. Networking online: I regularly ask colleagues to share ideas and resources, both offline and online. I’m also member of a project (IKI – Innovatiivisen kielikasvatuksen kartta ja kompassi, roughly ‘The map and compass of innovative language education) which helps teachers to make their good practices visible to all.

The keywords presented from Laura Czerniewicz’s conference paper made me think about different ways in which the idea of open education can get distorted. In my case,  making a course open means that learners can work flexibly but they still get enough support and their learning doesn’t become incoherent and/or fragmented. Further, will all materials we share with them make sense to them without teacher’s support? No I am in the process of making open materials for a self-study course which will not include teacher support (we don’t have any resource allocated for that), so how will that work? Do we liberate learners from teacher control, or do we actually just abandon them?

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