A Personal Academic Blog Post – Unit 1 | Activity 3 – Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflective Blog Post

 

During my time spent in the virtual world of the MALAT Virtual Symposium I was struck by one specific audio posting that gave me pause and caused me to reflect on the overall information of the symposium and on the subject of the one specific audio program; Limestone Learning. In the podcast both the partner/manager and an employee – a past student of the MALAT program – spoke to the for-profit operations of the company. They both spoke and presented exceptionally well, and I thought the partner and the past student were both well focused on providing their clients and their students with a high quality learning experience, but the overall impression I left the audio cast with was of one of questioning the positioning of Adult Education within a for-profit model.

From many of the other audio casts of the MALAT there is a focus on OER (Open Educational Resources) and open pedagogy and at first it seemed to me to be at odds with the for-profit model used by Limestone Learning and other adult learning focused companies. Companies such as Linkedin inLearning (formerly Linda.com), Udacity, and Pluralsight all specifically offer online learning focused on Adult Learners, but the model is still for-profit. After I reflected on the use of adult education in a for-profit company, I’m still at odds with the two terms – open and for-profit – and I’m still struggling to find a way to reconcile the two perspectives.

At the 2017 MALAT Symposium, Catherine Cronin spoke to the idea that “openness is really who I am, it’s also the object of my study, the lens that I use, and I suppose, my values” (Catherine Cronin, 2017 MALAT Symposium). Catherine has completed a PhD Thesis entitled Openness and praxis and speaks with authority on the subject of openness in education. Catherine states in the abstract that “Open education seeks to improve educational access, effectiveness, and equality. The term ‘open educational practices’ (OEP) describes practices that include the creation, use and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices” (Catherine Cronin, 2018, para. 1). Catherine also speaks to openness in a blog post she authored;

My work in open education predates my embarking on the PhD, and one key question has motivated me from the start: What values, practices, strategies, and policies within higher education can best support students and staff, our wider (local, national, international) communities, and learning in the context of increasingly open, networked and participatory culture, and increasingly unequal societies. (Catherine Cronin, 2018, para. 1)

I agree with Catherine’s work, and although her Thesis speaks to the use of OEP and OER by Instructors in the classroom, I believe her work is an important piece within the body of work that is the process of including openness within the educational arena.

Openness and sharing of resources, along with breaking down barriers to educational resources are cornerstones of openness in adult education. Creating fenced, for-profit models – even if based on open pedagogies and approaches – seems to be contrary to the openness that so many educators are working so diligently toward. At the least, more research needs to happen to ensure that for-profit models do not displace the community mindset of openness in education, and instead contribute meaningfully to it and build upon the body of work.

 

References

Catherine Cronin (April 20 2017) retrieved July 14 2019 from https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2017-04-20.0917.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&sid=2009211

Catherine Cronin (May 11 2018) Open education in higher education: policy recommendations retrieved July 14 2019 from https://catherinecronin.net/research/recommendations/

Catherine Cronin (April 12 2018) Openness and praxis: A situated study of academic staff meaning-making and decision-making with respect to openness and use of open educational practices in higher education retrieved July 14 2019 from https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/handle/10379/7276

Limestone Learning (April 16 2019) retrieved July 15 2019 from https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/55f599a061e64b6fb395d06b7d071529