Open Learning

Thoughts on Open Faculty Development

In catching up on the materials from Open Learning 18 in the past few weeks, I find myself thinking about the claim in the week 7 syllabus that “open faculty development in higher education offers a vital, unique, and uniquely effective opportunity for shared learning in the digital age.” I wanted to reflect on my own learning outcomes from this experience because I think I will draw on them for future faculty development opportunities I’ll create as an instructional designer.

I never realized how many rich conversations take place on Twitter and how valuable they can be for my own learning. I’m not really sure I had a strong opinion of Twitter. I knew it had been a powerful (if not contested) tool for social activism and I had even taught a few sessions on social media activism in my “environmental activism” course, but I didn’t really know what it was all about since I had never participated in this space myself. Once I joined Twitter a few months ago in part for Open Learning 18, I realized that there are actually really deep, rich and thoughtful conversations going on in this space. Also I never knew about Twitter Chats, but learned it was a really great way to be connected with others around a topic in a really short amount of time.

I’m still learning how to manage the flow of information from the web and there was a whole ton of information flowing from Open Learning 18. I excelled at managing information while writing my dissertation almost 2 years ago, but those skills have waned as the nature of my work changed (part-time teaching/stay at home mom-ing). Now that I find myself back in front of a computer for most days at work, I need those skills to stay focused. During one of the Twitter chats, I opened a bunch of new browser tabs with articles people had linked to. I forget what I searched for to discover the Tab Snooze browser extension, but I now use it to save browser tabs for when I’m ready to read. I’ve been using this tool regularly since that Twitter chat, as well as regularly opening lots of new tabs from what I see on Twitter. Now that  Twitter has become another portal for information in addition to Feedly, list-servs, etc. I’ve realized the need for personal information management, which perhaps is part of information literacy?

I also used Hypothes.is for the first time as part of this course. It was a really great way to feel connected to other people reading the same article. It made the articles come alive in a way that I had never really imagined, as if I could see the people reading the same articles that I do. Plus I can now read comments that people leave on any site that I visit. Actually using this tool (just like Twitter) was eye-opening.I can definitely see how this could be used for collaborative annotation in courses that faculty teach, or perhaps in faculty development contexts.

Along those lines, one of the best things I’ve taken away from Open Learning 18 is seeing how the web and digital media tools can be a platform for shared learning. In the past, I’ve only ever experienced the platform of learning management systems (Blackboard, Moodle, Google Classroom) so it was exciting to participate in a more open and fluid space for learning that creatively made use of all these other digital tools like Twitter, Hypothes.is, a mother blog, etc. Those other learning management systems now seem so static and rigid compared to this open learning hub. Experientially learning as a participant in these spaces has really helped me envision ways to tap into these powerful tools to created shared learning platforms for all sorts of contexts.

Thanks for all the inspiration Open Learning 18!