Tag Archives: WhyOpen?

Hello, Why Open? course!

My name is Christina Hendricks, and I’m helping to facilitate this course at the School of Open called “Why Open?” in August, and I’m writing this post to introduce myself to the participants (and to get at least one post onto our shiny new blog hub we’re creating–will link to it when it’s ready).

A bit about me

I teach philosophy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC (here’s my main website, and here’s my About.me page). I also teach in an interdisciplinary program for first-year students in the Faculty of Arts called Arts One. This is a team-taught, full year course for which students get 18 credits: 6 each in English, History and Philosophy. I think Arts One is a fantastic liberal arts program, and I dearly love teaching in it. We’ve recently started putting some of our lectures, student blogs, and Tweets online at “Arts One Digital,” which can give you a good sense of the sort of things we read and discuss in the course. If you want to read a bit more about my work in Arts One, you could click the “Arts One” tag on the right menu.

My first foray into doing work openly was this blog, which I started four or five years ago, but I only recently began to really blog on a regular basis (in large part because I had time to do so during a sabbatical in 2012-2013!). Over the course of the past six months, I’ve gotten more and more interested in “openness.” How did that happen?

How I got here

While on sabbatical last year, I decided to investigate these MOOC things, these Massive, Open, Online Courses. I looked into some from the major providers like Coursera and others, but ended up deciding to really get involved with one that was organized and facilitated by volunteers, entirely on the open web called “ETMOOC” (Educational Technology and Media MOOC). That course was run similarly to the Why Open? course (though it was 10 weeks long, if I remember correctly): we had synchronous sessions, plus suggested activities and blog posts, plus Twitter chats each week. There was a blog hub where we could easily see each others’ blog posts, and we were encouraged to comment on each others’ work to get conversations going and start making connections amongst us.

We were already engaging in open learning, through writing public blog posts and public comments on them, engaging in Twitter updates and Twitter chats publicly, and participating in synchronous sessions that were open for anyone to join and view later.

Still, we had a specific section of that course called “The Open Movement,” and I found myself especially excited about such things. I began doing some research on my own into openness, and found the School of Open! I also found another online course, specifically on open education, from the Open University, which I participated in. If you happen to be interested, all my blog posts for that course are under the “h817open” tag on the menu at right.

I had seen on the School of Open’s site that there were a list of courses that were being developed, or courses that people had expressed interest in having, and a call for volunteers. The “Why Open?” course was one of them, so I volunteered to help with it, along with the other organizers/facilitators. And here we are!

How I participate in openness

Well, so far it’s mostly just this blog:

  • I have opened up my research by writing about it step by step, taking notes on research articles and giving my comments to those, thinking out loud about how I might design research projects and asking others for suggestions (which has been very helpful!)
  • I have opened up my teaching by writing about planning courses, issues I run into while teaching courses, ideas for courses, and more

But I also have been trying to make a habit of reading numerous other blogs on things I’m interested in (mostly teaching and learning, plus openness generally) and commenting on them when I can. It’s a great way to learn through conversation!

In addition, I’ve become quite active on Twitter, sharing resources on teaching and learning or other topics through links to articles and blogs, asking questions and getting and giving advice. I have found that there is a great community of people in the world I can discuss teaching and learning with, in addition to my colleagues closer to home. It’s a fantastic way to expand my ideas and practices, by hearing from people I might never otherwise have talked to.

Finally, I am, starting now, beginning to help develop and facilitate open online courses. The “Why Open?” course is the first one I’m helping with, and I’m also part of the organizing team for another online course that is much longer–a 10-month, professional development course for teachers and faculty (K-12 and higher ed) in educational technology. Here’s our main site as it stands so far!

I hope to do more in the way of teaching openly online in the future, and to help develop the Arts One Digital site further. I may even open one of my on-campus courses to outside participants who could join for free (without earning credit, though). That’s an idea for the future that I haven’t worked out yet!


I look forward to meeting you all and discussing openness!