The focus of this blog originated from the various interpretations of open education and its learning communities.  My initial views on open education were based on an illusion of knowledge derived from my experience of online learning with MOOC and its pseudo learning communities.   It is apparent with my early connections with the MALAT cohort, that online communities have its definite purpose.  The chosen themes for this blog liberally filled some voids on my original interpretations of open education and learning communities.

In the context of open education, there are various “interpretations of open” such as “Open Educational Practices (OEP)”, “Open Educational Resources (OER)” and “Open Admission” in Open culture, open education, open questions.  Navigating the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of open education systems triggered an illusion of knowledge which fortunately prompted my interest in this space.  I understand at this point of time, there is more to it than simply experiencing it as a user.   Surely, it will be valuable to demystify the various distinctions and its respective purpose in contemporary digital learning.     

The concept of “Open gets messy” in Intentional messiness of online communities refers to MOOC and the “learning difficult to control” (Cormier, 2017).  I can relate to the difficulty of controlling the learning, especially with frequent related courses recommendations, triggering shifting learning interests.  I consequently did not experience an “intentional messiness” (Cormier, 2017) but more a sentiment of being a deliberate outsider to pseudo learning communities.   Nevertheless, the Open has unquestionably its benefits when supported by a framework that includes dedicated conversations, focused learnings, active participation and mentoring support (Cormier, 2017).

Emphatically, online learners benefit from “learning communities” (Yunker & Young 2019) but instructional designers do so as well. – see Developing Connections with our Clients and Learning Communities.  Although, their recommendations on network of learning and development professionals were commonly used by many in the industry (i.e. newsletters, social media, learning partners collaboration, etc.), they support the concept that “learning communities” (Yunker & Young 2019) are networking homes equally beneficial for both learners and designers.   Pondering the question “What do we do to build a community of learners” (Yunker & Young 2019) could creatively incite its purpose in the training design process. 

The following questions, “how can learning build community?” and “How can communities of all kinds hard wire continuous learning into their DNA?” (Pearson, 2021) tripped my thinking on learning communities. – see Reflections on a Career in Learning and Technology.  These angles on learning communities entail the “changing learners” (Pearson, 2021) landscape.  I professionally experienced these views with younger generations new to the workplace and the importance of peer-group learnings versus traditional development opportunities.  The above questions are good validators of shifting learners’ needs.

There is definite demystification of open education and surely more questions to explore on the role of learning communities, both from a learner and designer perspectives.  With evolving digital environments, technologies and “changing learners” (Pearson, 2021) in open education as well as the pivotal role of learning communities, one of the greater questions remains as how all of these inherently contribute to the learner’s journey, and certainly worth contemplating.


Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). MALAT Virtual Symposium: Intentional messiness of online communities, [webinar]. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Cronin, C. (2017, April 20).  MALAT Virtual Symposium: Open culture, open education, open questions, [webinar].  https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/catherine-cronin-choosing-open/

Pearson, R. (2021, April 16).  MALAT Virtual Symposium: Reflections on a Career in Learning and Technology, [webinar]. https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback

Yunker, P. & Young, N. (2019). MALAT Virtual Symposium: Developing Connections with our Clients and Learning Communities, [webinar].  https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback