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Recent & Upcoming Conversations on Open & Networked Learning

open network

If you are in the field of open and networked learning, you are likely going through a process of exploring the place of open philosophies and networked/participatory practices in the current political environment, and deciding where your place is in all of this. Thankfully, there have been a lot of spaces for us to discuss these questions together, such as the #OER17 conference which took place in London with the theme “The Politics of Open”. The conference may be over, but there have been several virtual events continuing the conversation, such as the Virtually Connecting Missed Conversation Towards Openness, led by Christian Friedrich and Kate Green and an OpenEdSIG follow-up webinar organized by Teresa MacKinnon.

More recently, this Monday, I led a conversation among several open practitioners and advocates discussing the meaning of open pedagogy. Watch recording below (or read the storify by Robert Schuwer, and some crowd-curated select quotes from blogs Twitter and the hangout itself):

This conversation was sparked by controversy over David Wiley’s initial blogpost (he has since revised his view) on what open pedagogy is, as part of the #YearOfOpen invited posts. I invited a group of people to this hangout (the ones who were able to join were Catherine Cronin, Mike Caulfield, Robin DeRosa, Susan Huggins, David Kernohan, Sheila MacNeill, Tannis Morgan, Viv Rolfe, Sukaina Walji and David Wiley), but I also invited others to participate in the conversation in the week ahead by blogging and tweeting, and I curated those posts here (still going). During the hangout itself, there were around 50 viewers, many of them Tweeting along. It was among the most honest and humble conversations I had ever been part of, as those in the hangout repeatedly showed openness to listening to perspectives different from their own, and found commonalities even as we all challenged each other on our differences. So much that was written throughout the week and of course work of years before influenced many of us in this discussion.

If you are interested in conversations like these, I have listed below several upcoming events where you are likely to find more of them. There are too many insights from this hangout to mention here, but two threads that interest me personally are the angle of looking at openness in education as a means to a social justice goal (see Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani’s upcoming Institute track on this at Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute Vancouver) and the power of openness to transform participatory learning via online networks (see the track I am co-facilitating with Kate Bowles on this at Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute Fredericksburg) – as I said during the hangout and several people tweeted, you can’t license relationships you develop online. I was also interested in the idea of bringing up the learner, and how use of the term “pedagogy” centers on teachers, giving all power to teachers, whereas open educational practices are more inclusive and anyone (learner, teacher, researcher, faculty developer, you name in it) can feel included. This came out in the hangout but also in some blogposts prior to it. So it is exciting to know that the theme of OER18 will center on learners!

Another interesting conversation, related to networked learning is Bonnie Stewart’s recent blogpost (with insightful comment thread) about an epiphany she had in the middle of a keynote, where she writes, “digital identity, as a practice, operates counter to the collaboration and cooperation that need to be part of digital citizenship.”

She expands:

“We’re algorithmically manipulated. We’re surveilled. We’re encouraged to speak rather than listen. We’re stuck engaging in visibility strategies, whether we admit it or not, in order simply to be acknowledged and seen within a social or professional space.

Our digital identities do not – and at the level of technological affordances and inherent structure, cannot – create a commons that is actually a healthy pro-social space.”

I won’t try to summarize the rest of her argument here, but I will recommend the comment thread, and say that it feels like if Foucault or bell hooks blogged, I wish they would have done it like Bonnie Stewart, letting us into the thought process behind the theorizing. Check out Bonnie’s work on developing digital literacies through her Antigonish 2 project – she is also teaching a digital literacies track at Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute Vancouver.

The #OpenLearning17 MOOC has just ended, but the resources and blogposts live on, and the Creative Commons Global Summit is just starting. Here is more of what I look forward to in 2017/2018.

Upcoming events you may find of interest include:

1. Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute

This year there is one in Vancouver in July (with tracks on Open Pedagogy and Social Justice led by Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani ; Digital literacies led by Bonnie Stewart ; and Writing about Teaching led by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel) and one in Fredericksburg in August (with tracks on Domain of One’s Own led by Martha Burtis, Critical Instructional Design led by Amy Collier and Amy Slay, Networked Learning and Intercultural Collaboration led by Kate Bowles and myself, and Introduction to Critical Digital Pedagogy led by Chris Friend and Jesse Stommel). Early bird registration closes May 1st. Register for Vancouver here and Fredericksburg here

2. OpenEd17

This year it is coming up in October in Anaheim, California, and has the theme Sharing, Gratitude and Hope, which resonates so much with how I am feeling now about my PLN and how they make learning possible for me in ways unimaginable 20 years ago. Also a good conference location for families. Just sayin’ :) Conference sub-themes include

  • Collaborations in Support of Open Education

  • Critiques of OER and Open Education

  • Increasing Hope through Open Education (I love this one)

  • Issues at the Intersection of Open and Analytics

  • Open Education in Developing Countries

  • Open Pedagogy and Open Educational Practices

  • The Meaning of Open

  • The Politics of Open

3. OER18

This is all the way in April 2018, and the call is still open to contribute to organizing the conference, but we know these are the themes co-chairs Viv Rolfe and David Kernohan have challenged us to consider:

  • How can open practice and research support learner success?

  • How does Open Education foster learner diversity and support inclusivity?

  • What skills do learners need and develop in experiencing open learning?

  • Politics in action – (following up from #OER17) – what are your latest initiatives in support of learning and growth?

  • How is OER learning from, and contributing to other open activities, e.g. open science, open source, open data, open access etc?

  • Wildcard – what do we need to include? What have we ignored?

4. Creative Commons Global Summit #CCSummit

And for immediate gratification, the Creative Commons Global Summit #CCSummit is happening April 28-30 and if you couldn’t make it, we’re doing several Virtually Connecting hallway conversations with the likes of Cable Green, Laura Hilliger, Doug Belshaw, Clint Lalonde, Ashe Dryden, Lisette Kalshoven, Regina Gong and more! Schedule and signup form here.

What are some exciting professional development opportunities on open and networked learning? Tell us in the comments!

["Open Wires" flickr photo by opensourceway shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license]

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