In this reflection #1 I deal with the three concepts: 1) open, 2) networked and 3) learning to think about the week #1 of our discussions, getting to know each other and co-learning.
For as long as I remember I have decided to go for open rather than closed in the spectrum of my attitude towards the world. I argue that there is not much choice in between. People can surely choose to go closed and are sometimes even surprisingly successful by hiding their ideas, or details from methods & results they use or achieve, preferring fences and borders over mutual discussions and honest collaboration. By surprisingly successful I mean that still many committees prefer to rate the success of an individual rather than the successes of teams one person has contributed to or led. However, and luckily, openness is a much more fruitful way–it is simply more likely to create better ideas by bringing different viewpoints together. Openness is truly necessary when solving grand challenges our societies are facing (like climate issues). During the week #1 I saw openness happening in many ways, in discussions, in the ways materials where organised and appearing – simply excellent. Openness clearly brings fun & creativity to the table.
Now the term networked can mean so many different things. How do we support people to get networked? How about information, how to make information to be networked–linked–in a meaningful way? I see that if both people and information are networked, people to other people, people to information, and information to information, new ideas and insights simply emerge more easily than when people are working alone, or when information are stored in silos. I have been fascinated about how to support creation of communities, or teams, and how time & space play crucial role in doing those tasks. Communities & networks of people are best created via events, where there is a rhythm, a good beat, and thus where coffee breaks, lunches, receptions, gala dinners nicely get blended with discussions by posters and demos, at lightning talks, or as questions in keynotes and via teaching experiments. I always ask how this can be done online: clearly online we also need to meet even if that will mean that we attend the meeting from surprising places like a train. Yes, I joined the group seven meeting from a train :).
Yes, learning! How do people learn? Do we learn when everything is clear? How about confusing situations when we start asking a lot of questions? We find answers by asking these questions, and our mind works to make the picture clear, or even: learning happens best in this way from confusion to clear skies. The setting we have in the open networked learning is in a way confusing: we have a mix of platforms in use for communicating in written and visual forms, and in interaction with the other participants. However, choosing for instance which online interaction tool to use, happened in first week via quick agreements among the team, or by informed decisions by the leader for a specific activity. This I see is in the core of learning of this work: that there is a truly amazing tooling available around, and by simply experimenting a good amount of them we learn which tool to use in which context: when, with whom, and where. To learn this, and to learn how to communicate the value of different tooling to others, we all still have some road to ride. I love the road ahead.
Tomi Kauppinen reflects and analyses open networked learning. You can follow him on Twitter: @LinkedScience.