Reflection – Open Learning: Safety & Belonging

Illustration of Digital Safety
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In reflection of the various live presentations and those documented over the period of five years, from a diverse group of students, professionals, and experts, I was not surprised to see safety and belonging repeated in the concept of open learning. No matter where we live, work, or play, as a human being, we want to belong and we want to feel safe.

Cromier provided an overview of the messiness of online communities, which in the past, deterred me from plunging into the digital world because of my own safety concerns. I have been very hesitant, for similar points he made, including lack of inclusion, community health, and safety (Cromier, 2017).   However; with recent changes in the world, I have come to realize it is necessary to adapt and learn how to benefit from open learning and to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.

Einarson’s presentation demonstrated the strength a community has in making a person feel like he or she belongs (Einarson, 2021). As an Indigenous person, my community raised me with a sense of belonging, making me feel safe, a natural part of the environment and culture. To create symposiums, platforms, and digital learning tools in a safe manner, is crucial, knowing the impact a safe environment has for those who want to belong in it.

Becoming a part of open learning is happening before my eyes and like Cronin, I also need to ask myself, “am I willing to contribute to helping my community stay healthy?” (Cronin, 2017) There is messiness in online communities, however; there is also substantial benefits if used safely. The intent to learn and share knowledge and experiences with a far greater audience then ever before provides benefits that are now achievable for communities that need it the most.

I was born and continue to live in the Northwest Territories, where the opportunity to learn diverse subjects from people of other cultures, cities, and beliefs, is rare. Sharing my own cultural beliefs, knowledge, and experiences have also been limited to in-person audiences. Open learning as I understood while listening to Cronin, is bringing forward opportunities to share, bridge gaps, and communicate (Cronin, 2017). I want to be a part of open learning while building a sense of community, safely, and offer students opportunities and an option.

When providing opportunities, I too want to participate in consultations with Indigenous groups as they are the true keepers of our land (Gates, 2021). I envision working alongside Indigenous groups with beneficiaries in mind, while balancing the safety of our children, communities, and integrating a sense of belonging. There is much to learn from Inuit, Dene, and Metis in the region(s) I live and work in. Traditional and Indigenous knowledge integrated with open learning in a safe environment, will shape the direction my work takes, throughout all the messiness that exists on and off line.

References:

Cromier, Dave. (2017) Intentional messiness of online communities. [Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017; Royal Roads University.
https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Cronin, Catherine. (2017) Open culture, open education, open question. [Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Road University.
https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/catherine-cronin-choosing-open/

Einarson, Earl. (2021). How can we incorporate Indigenous Worldviews in creation of online culturally safe learning environments? [2021 ARP Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/EarlMarkVS2021

Gates, Lisa. (2021). Playing Together: An open education resource of games for cultural learning. [2021 ARP Padlet] MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/GatesVS2021.

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock (2015). Privacy Data Secure Protection Safety Concept. [digital image id309537986]. Retrieved from https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/privacy-data-secure-protection-safety-concept-309537986

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