So… a sea of faces who didn’t really get what i was trying to explain. They were willing to listen, but my presentation didn’t explain it to them. Now, part of that was that i didn’t have a particularly good session, but mostly it’s because i’ve not been able to explain the value of working in the open to people who are not in the industry. This is the challenge that I accepted, in a sense, when Nancy challenged me in March, but it’s one that i’ve taken more seriously this summer. There are a variety of reasons for that, but one of the critical issues is ‘how can the open course sustain itself’.
What I’d like to do here is crystallize my ideas of how to structure the idea of ‘open course’ through the use of three different examples, each illustrating a ‘purpose’ that an open course might serve for a given institution. (be that university, non-profit or for-profit corp) It became very obvious, minutes into the presentation, that i needed more concrete examples for people to understand the concept. The opportunity to talk to people who had no idea what i was talking about was VERY useful.
Open Courses for Strategic Planning
This version of the open course borrows heavily from, as you might imagine, established strategic planning processes. In order to do futures thinking as a strategic planning method, it’s necessary to dig into the organization, get a sense of what their needs are, and then structure a scenario process that allows for the exploration of how the industry trends interact with that organization.
The contribution of the open course is in the value that comes from opening your discussion to the world marketplace. What tensions begin to emerge when you explore these ideas with people from other cultures, other backgrounds? The edfutures process is an example of how an open course of this sort might work… but i think it would need more structure… more like the structured course that I taught in singapore where there are specific streams that people are assigned/assign themselves to and they commit to as part of the process. Some of that was developing by the end of the edfutures, but I think it needs to start sooner.
Open course for training
This is a more traditional look at educating people. The course example that I just described to a person sitting at the table was for ‘improving the social networking awareness of a member group’. I was speaking specifically to their member group, but i never asked permission to explain it. so, more generically…
The open model allows for broad participation and new people to interact with your membership group. In allows for areas of specific interest to find collaborators that might not currently exist inside of your interest group. The participation in the open creates an identity online for a use that allows them to continue their work after the course finishes. A traditional training model creates a one way power structure betweeen trainer and trainee which, in a lifelong learning situation, ENDS after the course does. In an open course, the students are assuming responsibility for their work during the course which offers for a much higher chance of sustained effect.
Open course for research
I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to join the facilitation group for the PLE course this fall that’s being run with George Siemens, Rita Copp and Stephen Downes. The course will assess the field of PLE, take a look at the existing research and dig into some of the critical issues that are contentious in the field.
The offers an opportunity for a variety of interest groups. There are some people who will follow at a distance, simply in order to get a sense for the field, maybe read a few articles, and follow the newsletter. For others, who may be more directly interested, they will study the materials in an attempt to become well enough acquainted with the material to apply it in their practice. For still others, already professionals on the topic, they get a chance to have an open debate on important issues in the field in an attempt to, if nothing else, separate important issues of difference from simple misunderstanding.
So, uh, what’s your point
These are just some draft ideas about how to explain the value of working in the open to people who are not ideologically aligned to the idea. I think there’s a middle ground somewhere where we can bring in people who aren’t exactly ‘opposed’ to the idea of openness to understanding the power of supporting networks and network creation. An open course can bridge the gap between those who are directly committed to an idea and those who are peripherally willing to understand it. It is a chance to create an event… a time to commit to the exploration of an idea, whether the future for strat planning, social media for training, or Bob Dylan for research.