Open.Michigan leads real world School of Open class
Jane Park, November 1st, 2012
Last Friday, Open.Michigan helped a group of students get Creative Commons savvy in an offline version of the School of Open’s “Get CC Savvy” challenge, a course originally designed for independent online learners. For those yet unaware, the School of Open is a growing community initiative that will provide educational resources and professional development courses on the meaning and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Though offline School of Open workshops and activities have been held (see previous School of Open updates), they have primarily focused on creating new courses for the School; Open.Michigan’s Fun Friday session was the first time actual course material was taught in a real world group setting.
Victoria Lungu, student at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, who co-organized and led the session with her Open.Michigan colleagues, writes about how the event went below.
Last Friday I ran a workshop at the University of Michigan where a group of eight worked through the P2PU School of Open challenge “Get CC Savvy.” A year ago or even a few months ago, I would have never imagined taking part in such an exciting opportunity.
So what got me here? Well, to put it simply, a class with Kristin Fontichiaro at the School of Information and her choice to pair me with mentor Emily Puckett Rodgers at Open.Michigan. The class and mentorship were structured to give me the chance to explore my personal interest in open education and informal learning opportunities with a focus on information literacy and teaching.
After a few conversations and brainstorming sessions, Emily and I aimed to try and get the educational potential of the School of Open offline and into a group setting. It was an experiment to see how well an online and physical learning environment could work together.
We had some questions.
- Were the School of Open challenges able to support this kind of learning?
- What benefits would there be to learning something like Creative Commons in this sort of setting?
- How do we record the evidence and learning that is taking place?
We couldn’t answer these questions, or any of the other many questions we had. But we were ready to learn something from this event.
The session drew in participants of all different backgrounds from experts in CC/open licensing at Open.Michigan to students interested in librarianship, information policy, and even a student Wikipedian at the University of Michigan. The informal setting allowed for flexibility and creativity on how the session would evolve. I wanted participants to pick how they wanted to learn as long as they followed two measures of engagement:
- That they created an account with P2PU if they didn’t have one, and
- To comment and engage with the actual challenge and its tasks in the discussion areas.
I asked for participants to abide by these measures to encourage them to preserve evidence of the types of learning and questions that were inspired by the session and to encourage them to (hopefully) explore P2PU and the School of Open more at a later date.
As seen above, and as evidenced in the “Get CC Savvy” challenge discussion fields, eight of us worked together to explore the content, ask questions, post comments, and discuss personal perspectives and experiences relating to Creative Commons. We were even lucky enough to have an audio clip captured (it can be found and listened to in the discussion section of Task 3 in Get CC Savvy) and a fairly immediate response from Jane Park, CC Project Manager and P2PU founding volunteer, to one of the participants questions. The multimedia evidence and outside engagement really enhanced the experience and created a rich environment for learning.
While the hour and a half session allowed for this in-depth exploration of Creative Commons, it also taught us about how group dynamics and other factors impact the takeaways and experience.
- This experience was unique in that it actually had experts in the room, including Open Education Specialist Piet Kleymeer who helped build the challenge. While this won’t always be the case for others who choose to develop workshops like this, it definitely allowed for a more dynamic conversation and avenues of exploration than if there had not been someone to field questions. Even though we were fortunate in this aspect, it makes me question how deeply one might explore content like Creative Commons in an online module without that facilitation.
- Sometimes things built for individual work and short answer don’t always help facilitate a group effort to work through the material. Some of the exercise answers and singular tasks required more front-end effort to structure it into conversations to draw out the participatory aspect of the workshop. While P2PU and School of Open are not necessarily built to support live group workshops as a main source of learning, is there a better way to facilitate this method of learning the challenge content on P2PU?
- Capturing the learning that happens in a group can be hard (especially when working through an online module). Early on, we were so involved in the conversation that we had hardly realized no one had captured the ideas we had discussed. Sometimes a discussion board might capture central ideas or themes but it cannot capture the dialogue and discussion that leads to ideas or encourage further exploration that happens in groups. Some of the best learning occurs in collaborative spaces and it is something that should be preserved and shared when possible.
With all this in mind, would I do it again? Definitely. It is inspiring to participate in a conversation with minds that strive to understand, explore, and challenge ideas, new or mastered. The opportunity to see the group engagement play out before my eyes shows me the meaningfulness of the material and the ability of collaborative thought to spark interest beyond the framework of a challenge– where informal learning really starts to take shape.
Kudos to Victoria and Open.Michigan for piloting this School of Open class! If you’d also like to contribute to building this initiative:
- Visit http://schoolofopen.org. Register for a P2PU account and take or help improve one of the courses listed in various stages of development.
- Join the discussion and introduce yourself and your field of “open” interest: https://groups.google.com/group/school-of-open.
- Create a course. You can create directly on the P2PU platform or use http://pad.p2pu.org for collaborative editing. Just make sure to email the list or the Project Manager (that’s me) with a link to the working draft so we can help.