Karen Cangialosi

Professor of Biology, Keene State College

Month: January 2017

From the Ground

Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I’ve been saying since we began thinking about having an Open Education ‘Initiative’ on our campus- that it has to rise up from the people.  (Those who have known me as an activist for at least three decades wouldn’t be surprised by this.)  For our institution of ‘higher learning’, that means we the faculty and staff.  This past Friday (27 Jan 17) was our first meeting of the KSC Open Pedagogy Learning Community (the OPLC) with 13 attendees.  With no real agenda, just some suggested readings and a question- the rising up from the ground is already happening… below are my notes (in all of their imperfection and incompleteness, apologies to my esteemed colleagues for all inaccuracies).


I like the idea of building a community of learning, blurring the line between student and instructor. Open could be a catalyst to ‘blow the whole system up’

How to get student buy-in for open strategies. How to bring students in, address their worries about grading.

I’m interested in the intersections between open pedagogy and critical pedagogy, how to empower students to take ownership.

I don’t even know enough yet to be cynical like I usually am. 

My students are already using open resources I realized. 

I need to work on having my students make their work public.

I’ve become increasingly aware of a conversation that I didn’t know I was already a part of.  All of my courses are open, my students are writing in the open.

The library could be an incubator for open education efforts.  It could provide a hub to support students.  

I would blow it all up tomorrow if we could.

I’m already familiar with open source software, I’m here to learn more about open education.

Open education offers something new, it is really exciting. 

Having students being part of the process of learning is especially exciting.

No textbook? I was already doing that.

Open would allow us to do education even after we retire. 

How to find that balance between what students need to learn and ‘blowing it all up’.

I know very little about open, I’m here to learn more.

I’m familiar with OER, but I want to learn more about open practices.

Very excited about the idea of students producing the textbook. 

Social justice aspect of critical pedagogy – the connection between open and critical

Is the process more important than the product?  Not about striving for ‘perfection’.

It seems like it is OK for it to be messy and not perfect…the key is action, not perfection.   That the process is part of the learning.  This may be a hard adjustment for me to make.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t know anything.

Building an external community is important, maybe do that first, before you work on creating a textbook with students for example.

The voices of students that are uncomfortable or not there yet, need to be heard too.  How do we get our students to move forward?

Talk about the advantages to them.  Getting jobs.

The balance of privacy and openness.  Development of digital literacies.  Using annotations- private? Public?  Dimension and value of social learning. 

Challenging traditional teaching role expectations.  

Reflect upon and transform structures. 

What does it mean to say that education is inherently an ethical and political act?

We aren’t trying to turn students into something.  We are trying to get our students to turn themselves into something. 

I look for the grappling, the struggling.

Blow up grading. Let’s just all give our students incompletes because learning isn’t done.  #resist

Just start with having students react.  Can’t analyze until after they react. 

We don’t understand where our privacy begins and ends online.

Teach students not to put too much personal information online. 

They are going to be information producers when they leave here in an unsafe space. That’s going to happen to them later.  Have to help students learn how to do it now.

Making students aware of risks and vulnerability. 

Every time you put something online, you attach your own credibility to it.  What do you want that to look like?

Connecting students currently in the class with alums. Helps students to see better where they might go next.

Let’s use some of this time to talk about tools. Syndication tools. Annotation tools

Importance of peer review.  ‘Peer review is like trolling’

When we open students work, we are subjecting them to constant peer review

Some of my students admitted to being trolls and are proud of it. Trolling as an act of rebellion.

I don’t want it to be so open that it’s pointless.  How do we structure open so that’s there is something there?

Have people in this group generate a list of what they are trying

Get everyone in the OPLC to create a blog, have participants write blog posts about their teaching, syndicate their blogs to a main site for the OPLC.

Trying not to kill my mind

I must not fear by ben b is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Since fear is the mind killer, I am trying to have some courage.  My mind needs all the help it can get these days.  My fear in joining the Open Learning 17 faculty collaborative isn’t really about writing poorly or having nothing to say that anyone else wants to read (although I have those fears too); but more a fear that I won’t be able to keep up! Fear of being too busy.  But Laura Vanderkam recently reminded us that it isn’t about the quantity of time we have, but about how we set our priorities.  I am setting out this semester to facilitate an Open Pedagogy Learning Community at Keene State College where I work- but I have a lot to learn!   It seems like a good idea for me to take advantage of as many learning opportunities as I can, so here I am.

The Open Pedagogy Learning Community at KSC

Keene State College begins its Open Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community (OPLC) this Spring 2017 semester.  I am very grateful for the generous support of the Keene State College Faculty Enrichment, Faculty Fellow program, and excited to facilitate this learning community together with KSC Instructional Consultant, Chris Odato.

From the time that I first began learning about it, the Open Education movement, to me, seemed uniquely poised to be part of a range of solutions to the numerous problems facing both higher education and our society in general. Centralizing the political context of Open Ed has always been part of my thinking about it.  But since November 2016, it seemed especially critical.  As I sought to recruit faculty for the OPLC in December I sent the following email:


Dear faculty colleagues,

As our country faces more and more uncertainty, many of you have asked yourselves, what can I do about it? How can my role as a professor or someone who works with college students have a greater impact in influencing our larger culture? Some of you might join me in wondering how higher education has lost touch with a public that seems to increasingly undervalue us and can even be outright hostile.

Open Pedagogy is not a panacea, but it does offer some unique possibilities to address these questions. Open Pedagogy is part of the larger Open Education movement. Teaching in the Open is about building connections and community. It is about connecting students to a larger world and making the process of education more transparent, understandable and accessible. Open Pedagogy also deeply prioritizes the concept and value of students constructing their own learning process. While it involves the use of the web and some easy-to-learn technological tools, it is not about the technology itself. Practitioners of Open Pedagogy actively critique and confront the industrial and corporate approach of co-opting and packaging ‘teaching technology’ to turn students into consumers.  Instead, they utilize the as web a place for uncontrolled discovery, creativity and analysis, and as a venue for dialogue with the wider public. Students need faculty who can facilitate and support this learning process.  When students can work within a ‘Domain of their Own’, the web offers unlimited potential.  Open Pedagogy can be utilized in any type of class, regardless of discipline.

Some OP practitioners have said:

“Openness …can mean that students see themselves as actively building their learning, not simply being recipients of someone else’s version of it.”  Audrey Watters, Founder of Hack Education

“…networked learning is not about digital tools, but about the dream of the public commons. And that’s not about new high-tech modes of connection but about community-driven communication and the empowerment of diverse public voices.”  [Open Pedagogy can] “help teachers develop practices that allow students to critique and contribute to the knowledge economy.” Robin DeRosa, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, Plymouth State University

“Education is inherently an ethical and political act.”- Michael Apple  (HT Catherine Cronin, National University of Ireland, Galway)

Reasons to join the OPLC:

  • because you don’t have time NOT to join in on these critical conversations
  • because you are interested in critically engaged pedagogy
  • because this is not about technology, it is about students and teachers and learning
  • because the world is changing and you want to change with it, and help direct that change
  • because you believe that putting students at the center of their learning makes them take ownership and care more deeply about what they are doing
  • because online isn’t going away, even if you choose to stay offline


I was very happy to have received many enthusiastic responses and a surprising number (to me) of faculty ready to commit to meeting every other week on a Friday! We are fortunate to have faculty from Sociology, English, Women’s and Gender Studies, Communication, Education, Music, Environmental studies, Library, Biology, Chemistry, and Physical education.  I feel very honored to be a part of this grassroots, faculty-driven initiative at Keene State College!

In our planning, I also sought resources from Tweeps, Followees and Open Ed experts on Twitter. I was blown away by the number of generous responses and retweets of my call for help- what an amazing group.  I gathered a list of those resources together and share them HERE.  A huge THANK YOU to Maha Bali, Gardner Campbell, Samantha Veneruso, Christian Friedrich, Laura Gogia, Catherine Cronin, Simon Thomson, George Station, Bonnie Stewart, Rajiv Jhangiani, Dan Blickensderfer, Alan Levine, Jeff McClurken, Jamison Miller, Mariana Funes and Robin DeRosa.  This list (in an open google doc) is a work in progress, please add anything to it that you think would be helpful!

Open Pedagogy Learning Community Resource List

We are also planning an Open Education Speaker Series for this spring that includes Robin DeRosa, Andrew Rikard, Erika Burke, Martha Burtis and Bonnie Stewart.  Details and Periscopes to come soon!

I promise to report back later on our progress and as our plans develop. Stay tuned!  Also follow us on Twitter at #KSCollab


The ‘we’ and ‘our’ in any of the statements above refer to the

Open Ed Keene Dream Team:

Jennifer Darrow (@gobman) KSC Academic Technology Director Extraordinaire

Celia Rabinowitz (@crabinowitz) KSC Dean of Library and Awesomeness

Robin DeRosa (@actualham) Goddess of all things Open, and our USNH colleague (yeah that’s right, and Jenny, Celia and I feel like we won the megabucks colleague lottery!)

Karen Cangialosi (@karencang) Faculty member and rebel rouser

Left to right: Karen, Robin, Jenny and Celia

© 2017 Karen Cangialosi

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