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Unit 1 Week 1 Activity 1 – Virtual Symposium Reflection

In going into the Virtual Symposium, I found myself excited by the opportunity to pick and choose from a broad range of topical presentations and discussions. The freedom of choosing my own path through the material was exciting. I didn’t expect that to be the very thing that would be a recurring theme.

“I would call myself a non-traditional academic student. I came to this program … with two college diploma’s, two apprenticeships …” (Heck, 2020, 32:47)

My experience with learning has been similarly non-traditional and hands-on, having completed a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design and with over a decade of experience in both corporate and higher education. Even so, coming to this Master’s program without a prior degree is still a daunting proposition. Having had conversations with fellow students regarding Imposter Syndrome, a commonality among Graduate students (Weir, 2013, p. 24), hearing this from a student finishing the same program as I provides not only hope but also validation for students from a variety of backgrounds.

As mentioned, this rang true throughout the Symposium. For instance, in describing his work with developing open learning communities, Dave Cormier likened the community to a plant structure called a rhizome, stating that “[it] is made up of a number of semi-independent nodes, each of which is capable of growing and spreading on its own, bounded only by the limits of its habitat. … From a learning perspective … imagine your learners from that perspective … they follow their own paths.” (Cormier, 2017, 14:09) In embracing a multitude of learning paths, students whose experiences are both within and without academia are able to find acceptance within an open learning environment.

Paul Stacey, in his discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion through a global learning commons, noted that “openness offers up a means for people to actively participate with something, whether it’s education or even other things like contributing to culture, in ways that they simply weren’t allowed to before.” (Stacey, 2018, 22:30) This is the opportunity which students from diverse backgrounds are afforded when education is opened up in this manner.

In her talk involving open culture and education, Catherine Cronin asked, “If we say those are not valid sites for learning, and they should sign into this particular space, this is where formal learning happens, then the message that we’re tapping onto [sic?] students and learners is that there is a difference, there is a dichotomy between formal and informal learning, and they must learn to build bridges between them themselves. We’re not enabling that bridge building.” (Cronin, 2017, 18:15)

And while I and my fellow students move forward on paths, in the midst of this bridge that is being built between informal and formal learning, between past experience and future, I find myself mulling over a paraphrased quote by Heather Ross: “We shift away from students consuming education and knowledge to students contributing to it.” (Stacey, 2018, 25:25) And I find myself curious just what my own contributions might be.


Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities [Webinar]. Royal Roads University. https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/playback/artifact?psid=2017-04-18.0934.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&aid=194973

Cronin, C. (2017, April 20). Open culture, open education, open questions [Webinar]. Royal Roads University. https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/playback/artifact?psid=2017-04-20.0917.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&aid=195019

Heck, T. (2020, April 17). Assessing the Impact of a Digitally Enhanced Rubric/Feedback Tool in a Practical Lab Setting [Webinar]. Royal Roads University. https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/abcf9f300d4340968e374f6cf3a33c53

Stacey, P. (2018, April 17). Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – building a global learning commons [Webinar]. Royal Roads University. https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/1e7524409f81435db6df3c575d115e82

Weir, K. (2013). Feel like a fraud?. gradPSYCH Magazine, 11(4), 24. https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud

2 Responses

  1. It was so exciting to read your connections with the various virtual symposium speakers and I was interested to hear which sessions resonated with you. Looking forward to you adding your voice to the conversation and to your contributions! Ciao, Elizabeth

    1. Hi, Elizabeth.

      Thanks for the question. 🙂

      Paul Stacey’s session was the one that stood out the most. Much of my work in building automation, including developing two training centers, revolved around promoting and establishing the KNX Building Automation platform in Southern Africa. KNX is touted as being an “open standard” in building automation, which is what peaks my interest re: open learning as I really love “open” anything, including open source. I feel like openness is a big equalizer so, when we apply that same concept to learning, I see it as meaning more accessibility to these materials for all.

      Where Dave Cormier’s session spoke to me was in the difference in application of the word “open”. He described “open source” as having openness on a code level but still requiring a prerequisite skill set in order to do anything with it. In KNX, we had an openness to the protocol (the essential “language” that products would speak), but there were always hurdles in the way to making this “completely open”. Products themselves had to be fully certified

      Similarly, while training is open to all, the training materials are not and are reserved for certified training centres. For instance, you had to purchase certain chips from certain manufacturers, or to have the device certified by KNX. There was always this oversight that was required, and those from an Open Source background typically did not agree with that approach as it was seen as hampering the “we can do what we want” meaning of “open”.

      I need to dig into the Open Education Consortium some more for sure as that seems a really interesting part for me.

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