From the Ground

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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.

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4 thoughts on “From the Ground

  1. I like this list, especially some of the tensions/potential contradictions surrounding the desire to have students work in the open, and the awareness of legitimate concerns about privacy and the durability of the web record. Who among us would want every formal paper, let alone every informal “think piece” we wrote in college, especially in classes way outside our majors, to be searchable by anyone anytime during our lifetimes? Certainly not I, and I don’t think I have an exaggerated sense of privacy.

    At the very least, students should not have to agree to a level of exposure that feels uncomfortable, even dangerous, to them in exchange for an education. This might be especially true of international students, especially those who expect to return to life under regimes less “open,” or less stable, than in the U.S. (not that the U.S. is feeling all that open or stable right now). It might also be true of students with significantly different experiences/values/political or other perspectives from their families of origin, who are nevertheless still depending on financial support from those families.

    On the other hand, there are real benefits to writing for a real audience, and open posting can enable that (even as it can, indeed, attract trolls — probably a low-probability event, but also a major time- and energy-suck for all involved if it does happen).

    The solution presumably lies in finding some sort of happy medium: maybe requiring that all or most writing for the class be open to the rest of the class as well as the instructor (a step in itself for students with the strongest senses of/felt needs for privacy in which to incubate their ideas), but leaving it to students to decide which if any writing to make fully public (with perhaps a bit of guidance for those who tend to a “let it all hang out” extreme that might cause problems with future employers, or leave them vulnerable to real-world violence)?

    1. I agree that we absolutely need to provide safe spaces for students that need their privacy protected for various reasons. But I also think that we need to have discussions about what it means to take a risk. Powerful things can happen when people aren’t afraid to express an unpopular opinion or reveal something about themselves, etc. Obviously this can be dangerous, so we also absolutely need to carefully help students decide when or if taking a risk is something that they want to do. Or should safety always be the highest priority?

  2. And a question: the conviction that change must “rise up from the people/the ground” resonates with me. I’m not sure what your faculty profile looks like, but I’m wondering what success you’ve had in involving adjunct colleagues, if any, in the OPLC. At my institution, it would be very hard for part-time contingents to participate in an every-Friday meeting (because they were scheduled to teach on another campus, or because that is one of their scarce days at home to catch up on grading and prep). Creating change “from the ground” in classes that are mostly taught by contingent faculty is impossible unless those faculty members are involved in the discussions that lead to change, but involving them in the discussions often means asking/expecting them to work without compensation. It’s a conundrum, and I wonder whether you’ve found even a partial solution.

    1. We are at the very beginning of this process and so for now there are only full-time faculty involved. My hope is that in the future we will be able to provide compensation and include adjuncts.

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