Wide open spaces

Why Open Matters – Week One

I remember the day I chose English Literature as my major. It is memorable not because I was suddenly free of the the pressure of being “undeclared”. It was memorable because I felt a nagging guilt. Was this a legitimate use of formal education? How will it serve me? Luckily, I was clear about what I wanted. And, what I wanted was a book club.

Book club meeting, by Anda Logn

An English Lit degree seemed too good to be true. We get to sit around and talk about books?  We get to read and reflect together, in real time?

I continued on to a Masters degree because I couldn’t resist. The quality of the conversation kept getting better. Class size shrank from 20 to 8. Discussion continued in many pubs, over many weeks.

When class ended we went our separate ways: we had 4 months to write a thesis. We still went to the pub (this is Halifax), but we were too immersed in the worlds of one particular author or literary movement to share the way we did before.

That was when I figured that a PhD was not for me. More isolation. More time alone with my thoughts. More misery grinding away on a theory that needed to be tested by someone smarter than me.

This first week of #OpenEdMOOC has landed me here.

That class time was an open networked environment. Everything was iterative. We were able to share freely without a mitigating agent. We were releasing early and releasing often. We were grateful for the talent of our peers. The learning was rapid and expansive. Success in learning was success in this network.

Open matters because it allows us to replicate this experience in a digital space.  We can reflect and expand at a rate which matches our environment. But it has to happen in the open and it has to happen in a network.

Open is the enabler – that thing that brings us together at the pub every week.

Split Crow on a Saturday, by Cinderella Sew

One Reply to “Wide open spaces”

  1. Beyond rousing those feelings of nostalgia for my own undergrad in Eng Lit, your post asserts an intrinsic link between open and networked.

    As a person with a small, cultivated personal network and relying on the strength of weak or even *absent ties for a personal learning network, I wonder in how many ways this situation affects the partnership with openness? I’m referring to Granovetter’s original posits here. He makes a case for close ties providing local cohesion, but overall fragmentation. I guess I am just curious how educators frame their ties or PLNs…

    *Absent ties, to me, would be those serendipitous stumbles or one off links to an unknown person’s idea

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