Unit 1, Activity 3: Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflection

This past week I participated in the 2021 MALAT Virtual Symposium. The symposium is made up of a series of guest speakers, ranging from students, faculty, and professionals, and their experiences with education and technology. A recurring theme in this years’ (and past years) symposium was open and its role in education.

Starting with Amanda Coolidge’s (2021) talk on Open Education, which she described as “being about sharing, collaboration, and breaking down barriers of accessing education and knowledge” (08:01-08:08), I was intrigued to learn that the term “open” was as broad as it is, and includes topics such as open textbooks, open pedagogy, open research, etc., which all culminate under the umbrella term of open practice. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on access and affordability issues and how they can be addressed through open practice. Dave Cormier (2017) furthered the discussion on open in his talk, making the distinction between free and freedom, which I thought was important as it hadn’t occurred to me that free, albeit appealing, may not equal freedom. I also liked how he spoke to the value of both “open as in content and open as in learning” (17:46) because I believe it takes both to be a successful learner. Cormier also used a great metaphor with rhizomes and its implications on open, and learning in general, that will undoubtedly stick with me.

As Coolidge (2021) discussed the work of BCcampus with open education, specifically with open textbooks, I disagreed with her position that the quality of open textbooks “isn’t so much about the course material, its about the way in which you teach it” (22:31). My initial disagreement stemmed from the idea that its possible to have a very charismatic teacher teaching material that isn’t accurate (e.g., teaching students that Germany won World War II). As I watched Elizabeth Childs and Loni Davis’s (2021) talk, I further felt Coolidge’s position was weak due to Child’s comments on how journal articles undergo a rigorous review process before being published. I found myself asking why if journal articles require such scrutiny, why don’t open textbooks? While I recognize there is likely a lengthier explanation about the review process for open textbooks, and Weller (2020) states that “the Open Education Group at Brigham Young University…[has] established an evidence base demonstrating that open textbooks were of high quality and had a positive impact on students” (p. 138-139), I felt that a stronger stance from Coolidge was needed. Despite this disagreement, I’d like to learn more about open textbooks and their review and publishing processes. Weller (2020) states that “…the quality of the physical book is an important aspect for both educators and students. Books are artifacts at which people tend to have an emotional connection” (p. 139), so I’d be curious to learn more on how this is achieved with respect to open textbooks.

While Cindy Harris did not speak specifically about an open topic, her willingness to be open about her life and career journey resonated with me. I hope to connect with her for advice on the instructional design and how to break into the field. As well, the presentations from current MALAT students, from Mark Regan’s work with air traffic controllers and simulator technologies to Sandra Kuiper’s research on Free Learning as an Open Educational Resource Repository, helped shed light on the wide range of research options, which is encouraging as I prepare to choose my exit pathway.

 

References

Childs, E., & Davis, L., (2021, April 14). Critical Reading and Writing at the Graduate Level. [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . http://bit.ly/criticalreadingwritingVS2021

Coolidge, A. (2021, April 12). Open Education: what it is; what it does and its amazing impact! [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . http://bit.ly/CoolidgeVS2021

Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://www.aupress.ca/books/120290-25-years-of-ed-tech/

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