First steps? Perhaps none are more famous than those that Neil Armstrong made as he bounced along the lunar surface. A nine-year old Canadian watched those steps and dreamed of becoming an astronaut, a seemingly impossible challenge for someone native to a country that had no space program.
Today, nearly 50 years have past and Chris Hadfield has not only become an astronaut but many believe he has brought a new energy and excitement and, yes, Cogdog, inspiration and optimism, back to NASA and space exploration.
How did he accomplish this?
By being open.
Some might say that Chris used social media expertly. He has two million Twitter followers and his music video, a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” has over 14 million hits. On his popularity, Chris says, “They follow me because it’s interesting; there are beautiful images; there’s poetry in what’s happening; there’s a purpose in what’s happening; there’s a beauty to it; there’s hope in it.”
But as we discussed in Jenny’s session prompted by Lindsay’s question about openness only dealing with online, openness is a way of being in the world.
Or in Chris’s case, out-of-this-world.
Henry Jenkins disclaimer for participatory learning applies to openness: “It’s less about integrating technology and more about integrating the skills that we associate with participatory learning.”
1.With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2.With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others
3.With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
4.Where members believe that their contributions matter
5.Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
6.Not every member must contribute, but all must believe they are free to contribute when ready and that what they contribute will be appropriately valued.
— Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century
In my teaching, if I can create a learning space that supports and encourages participatory learning then I’ve gone a long way toward becoming the open teacher I want to be and preparing my students to learn the skills of openness, and hopefully, to embrace the ethos of openness.
As I wrote in the backchannel in response to Lindsay’s question: “Yes, technology has given openness new energy/opportunities for openness.”
When I first began university teaching, on-campus rather than online, I wanted to find some way to open up the classroom.
I had always wanted to move beyond the teacher-to-student loop and the online discussion boards enabled me to create a conversation spiraling among students and teacher.“Giving Birth to Ourselves,” FSLT12 blog post
The beauty of online discussion boards or forums was that everyone, between on-campus and online, had a chance to participate — whether they were introverts or extroverts. Whether as Scott Johnson described in the FSLT13 Arrival Lounge — they preferred “slow motion social interaction” to real-time.
From the blended/hybrid classes of twelve years ago, I’ve moved online and now hold synchronous discussions in a virtual world (The Bookhenge in Second Life) where I can open up the course and invite the world to join. I’ve written about learning and teaching here and shared an archived clip of a student presentation in this post: “The Better Part of Reality.”
In my reflective paper on learning for FSLT12 I wrote of a new course I was designing. Well, the shakedown cruise is complete and I hope to use FSLT13 as a way to reflect on what went right and what I can improve on. Of particular interest will be how to foster public critique in an course — something that seems to stretch the boundaries of openness.