Finding Personal Writing Space

For this project I created a blog focusing on the issues and trends of open education in higher education today.  These trends represent an important development in the evolution of text.  History teaches us that the way text is published and made accessible to society, and in particular students, can have profound effects on society. Earlier in this term I wrote about how shifting economies of book production has impacted the way we learn, do business, pray, and form social relationships. In this project I have interpreted the concepts of the course in ways that have direct meaning and influence on the trends my colleagues and I are facing at our college.

References are text free

Research projects are based on the sound methodology of researching peer reviewed journal articles.  The reading of course material has been invaluable in informing my opinions on this subject matter of this project. However, all references cited in this project are from audio or video files. As much as I would also like to challenge the idea that only published subject matter experts should be cited in academic projects, those referenced in this project are widely recognized experts in open education.  However their ideas cited are oral, fluid, often spontaneous and, for the most part, free of the publisher’s lock-down mechanisms. Chris Anderson (2010) speaks of how online video will be an equalizing movement in power and knowledge.  Watch his recent TED talk here:  Chris Anderson: how the web video powers global innovation

The decision to reference only audio-visual material was an outcome of my reflection on this course.  The web is creating substantial social change through the quantity of content disseminated.  Is this content really being consumed in modalities other than text to any significant degree? Is it deemphasizing the value of text and legitimizing other media? Is there enough quality multi-media content legally accessible for educational purposes? These are some of the practical considerations I explored through this project.

Text Technology

A popular notion of text is that it lives forever.  This is certainly true for those belonging to certain social and academic circles that publish and promote each other.  Until the birth of the web the publishing system was very efficient at running a closed system of thought where only the ideas of an exclusive club had a voice.  The web of course changed much of this by allowing everyone with internet access the opportunity to be heard.

Extraordinarily, the education sector has found a way to counter the great social equalizing quality of the web by creating the Learner Management System: the fluorescent lighted room on the internet as Campbell (2009) calls it.  Many of the computer mediated communication tools used in online education ensure the death of ideas.  Submitted assignments are read by one instructor (two if you count “Turnitin”).  Then there are the discussion forums that some instructional technologists hold as the foundation of quality online learning environments.  Ideas in discussion forums are read by a few more people creating a sense of collaborative learning before being wiped at the end of the semester.  It is a certain death that is somewhat of a blessing as the nature of LMS forums promotes an artificial style of communication where students post and respond to tally points on the rubric rather than engage authentically with peers, content, and the instructor.

An innovative step taken at Gardner Campbell (2009) and his peers was to create a learning system through WordPress Multi User. This system breaks out of the LMS box allowing students to post their ideas in the web community.  In this way, learners engage with the community in an authentic learning task where content will live for at least four years. Although it does represent an openness in design, it is still a project initiated and administered by an institution.

The writing space for this project blog is self-hosted at: www.chrisaitken.info

References

Anderson, C. (2010). Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation. TED:Ideas worth spreading. (video) Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html

Campbell, G. (2009, March 15).  Edupunk: open source education. South by southwest interactive. (audio podcast) Retrieved from http://www.downes.ca/presentation/215

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One Response to Finding Personal Writing Space

  1. Soraya says:

    this is great- I checked out your blog- really neat ideas… yes, it’s true that we should find ways to be authentic in our interactions whether it is on the discussion page or weblog.

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