So, how do I feel about Open Education? Quite frankly, I love it!
There’s always some flexibility in what I learn, how I learn it, and who I learn it with…but wait, let me clarify a little.
I am an adult learner, meaning I chose to be here and I want to learn. The sometimes ‘unstructure’ of Open Education, to me, is exciting, challenging, and a way for me to discover what I am passionate about (in a somewhat directed way). In addition to that, I get to learn from others’ perspectives while I am considering my own (which I would argue, helps me to better understand what I am learning about in ways that I might not otherwise). Additionally, it is the ‘unstructure’ in the forums and postings that really broadens my understanding of the topic. When classmates aren’t all answering the same questions in the same ways on their postings, and instead are considering it from a perspective that is meaningful to them, the breadth and depth of learning increases greatly.
As an adult learner, I have also experienced classes done through a Learning Management System in my experience, these classes have been done with a ‘one size fits all’ mentality (everyone do the exact same readings, answer the exact same questions- in this many characters or less, and respond to 3 of your classmates thoughts). For me, as an adult learner, I DON’T need someone to control how a discussion flows. I don’t need to be limited as I am trying to acquire (and make meaning of) new information. I want as much information as I can find, I want to understand how others understand the information, and I want to engage in meaningful interactions as I am piecing my understanding together.
That being said, am I against LMS in a K-12 setting? Absolutely not. There is something to be said for scaffolding and teachers having the ability to organize and manage courses (and students) as they learn to maneuver the online space (and their digital footprint).
Does that mean that forums in K-12 settings must all be contrived and controlled? Does that mean that students should all read the same material and respond to the same questions and a set number of people?
Maybe it’s just me, but that kind of seems like it’s on the lower end of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Additionally, I’ve been there as a student, and I don’t think it is as authentic or engaging.
Can conversations in ‘closed online spaces’ be authentic for K-12 learning?
I think there is absolutely potential for this to happen, but it depends on the systems you choose to use, how you set the space up, and as a teacher, the amount of control you are willing to give up.
For instance, can we implement SeeSaw and open the space to families? Can we connect two or more grade 6 classrooms (in the same school or not) to collaborate on Google+ community? These can be ‘closed’ forums that still allow for an audience and interactions (even beyond the walls of our classrooms).
Also, as the instructor/facilitator are we giving one black and white question to consider for the post? Are we giving multiple options of things to consider? Do the questions we pose have a ‘right’ answer? Are we limiting how much our students have to say about a topic (ie. 250 words)? Are we dictating how many interactions they need to complete in a week, or are we allowing them to respond to the things they connect with?
There’s always more than one way to solve a problem (or explain your thinking), and as teachers I think it’s our responsibility to let students find their voice.