On Identity, Openness & Activism…

The 2021 RRU MALAT Symposium offered a platform to explore a range of possibilities and unique challenges at the intersection of education and technology.  I expected to leave with new insights and ares of inquiry, but was delighted to end the week feeling energized and inspired.  There were countless themes woven through the sessions and yet three ideas resonated most:

Openness – Identity – Activism

Cormier’s workshop Intentional messiness of online communities added depth to the meaning of ‘open’, which I’ve learned requires a contextual explanation when used as it can refer to many aspects of education: open access for communities, open source material and open content independent of pedagogy to name a few.  Cormier shared how “Open gets messy” (Cormier, 2017, 26:42) highlighting various challenges and risks relating to open education.

(Cormier, 2017, 27:00)

An insight that resonated was #2 on the list above: “Every We Makes a Them“.  Cormier shared that “the longer a learning community has been formed, the harder they are to break into…that sense of inclusion becomes difficult the more open your learning community ends up being” (Cormier, 2017, 29:15)

The notion of openness as it relates to access was also central to Amanda Cooledge’s presentation Open Education: what it is; what it does and its amazing impact! (Cooledge, 2021).  As the Director of Open Education BCCampus, Cooledge not only shared valuable resources like the collection of publicly available open textbooks, they also noted in the Q&A period the main projects their team is focused on including “supporting access for rural and indigenous communities and finding the the best way to teach instructors how to ensure their content is anti-racist.” (Cooledge, 2021, 41:22)

At the recommendation fellow MALAT graduate student of Angela Frawley – I watched Earl Einarson‘s session “How can we incorporate Indigenous Worldviews in the creation of online culturally safe learning environments?”   Earl shared from his 15-20 years of experience in working with indigenous communities that he “brings my whole self to everything I do… I’m pretty open, you have to be because truth and openness go together”   (Einarson, 2021, 21:16).  This statement left me to ponder my own identify, online and otherwise, and how I show up to spaces and my positionally to the content I share.  In fact – I felt encouraged to share more about Who I Am as my first blog post to be clear about my perspective as a student in this program.

The symposium culminated with a Saturday Debrief Social, where a number of MALAT students convened to share ideas, nerves and our excitement about the past week.  We lamented the enormous challenges involved with the future of education which gave more weight to how Cormier introduced himself in his presentation as an “educational activist” (Cormier, 2017).  As I progress through the next two years of the MALAT program, I am doing so with consideration for my role and work after school, how will I leverage my position to be more than simply a proponent of education, but an activist to improve education.



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

Cooledge, A. (2021, April 12). Open Education: what it is; what it does and its amazing impact! [Webinar] Royal Roads University. ca.bbcollab.com/…/7f4d3688c6764b40bd1264f8750e19ce

Einarson, E. (2021). How can we incorporate Indigenous Worldviews in the creation of online culturally safe learning environments [Webinar] Royal Roads University. https://bluejeans.com/playback/s/DBSzyH6DFF3XAsXArMml8VRRZCr0aGO9zv6SQUsy5ABuSGKWk8Dvadz4ogA3m7J7

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