Activity 1: The Open Environment
Block 2 of the H817 module (Openness and Innovation in eLearning) with the Open University in the UK, is not happening within our own sheltered space, but is open to other learners with varying backgrounds, which I think will make the pool all the more richer.
I am here because I have signed up for the full H817 module which is part of the Masters in Online and Distance Education. I am doing the MA because I teach, for the most part, English language via Skype and within virtual worlds and want to deepen my understanding of, the use of technology within education; pedagogical approaches specifically related to this environment; accessing and implementing OERs (Open Educational Resources); future trends in education and what influence academic debates are having on educational reforms.
I am also interested in observing how adult learners move and interact within these walls and whether they feel comfortable shifting outside to communicate and network with like-minded thinkers, or whether they prefer to remain within the VLE and utilize the digital toolkit at their disposable.
I mentioned in an opening forum post that I often compare virtual spaces to rambling old houses. There is often some kind of central meeting space, but other than that, there are numerous rooms to explore, stairways to be climbed, trapdoors leading to unexpected places, creaky floorboards and dirty window pains that blur and distort the view into the overgrown gardens.
So continuing with this imagery, I expect the open part of our module to be a bit like a party within this sprawling house, its gardens and beyond. We have all accepted the hosts' invitation to attend and some of us will already know each other. However, others will be newcomers who only have loose connections with the hosts. Our journey to the house will vary, as will our expectations about what kind of party it is going to be.
Some of us will probably move from room to room, open closed doors, mingle with various groups and push the party to the limit: testing the hosts' patience and generosity. Other party-goers might prefer to hang in the central room next to the buffet and bar where the hosts are close by, just in case they need some help. I visualize a group laughing around the keg trying to keep their darts on course, whilst the wine connoisseurs debate the best years and conditions for Bordeaux. Perhaps during the evening members from each group will cross paths and have a chat, or reform into smaller groups in neighbouring rooms. As the party gets livelier maybe a larger group will let themselves go and immerse themselves in the music: one throbbing pulse pounding the life out of the wooden floorboards. There will be individuals who will want to cool down and explore the overgrown garden, poke their heads inside the mossy greenhouses and worn barns in the hope of discovering a relic that they can take home and put to use for themselves.
Although we have accepted the hosts' invitation to come, we may not all arrive or leave together, or make the most of what is on offer. We will be able to drink, dance, eat, mingle, play darts and explore the house, but how we experience this event will depend on how much we put into it. If we decide to sit in a corner and wait to be served, then we may walk away thinking what a boring night. But if we go in full of excitement and curiosity and approach the hosts and other people openly, then I think it is going to be a night to remember and something that we will speak about positively and reflect on occasionally to relive the experience.
I am entering with an open mind. I am curious and looking forward to meeting people, exchanging ideas and pushing open doors to see what is waiting on the other side.