Control…For those of us that work best when we have rules and boundaries, know what to expect, know how to get 100%, and are under constant guidance then closed learning is the place for us. We can enter the pharmacy of education that is prescribed. We will know the rules, how to follow them and how we will be marked. We will be able to do group work and work collaboratively and we will be given a choice between a few topics to work with our group on. We will learn within the framework that we are given and we will be guided along the way. We will get to know our fellow classmates because there will be only between 10 and 40 of us. It will be like the face-to-face classes we took except now its online. It will be safe and comfortable.
Chaos…for those of us that love chaos, breaking the rules, questioning everything, make our own rules and like to be free then open learning is for us. We can enter the forest with no path. We won’t know all the rules, we can create our own path, we can decide what we will learn. We can work in groups, group that we make, on a subject we like. We can change direction when the learning changes or we can dive deeper into the forest and stay focused. It will be all up to us and we won’t need anyone to guide us, we will have our own compass.
So which one are you?
I have had some experience with closed learning formats in the past and present. I have taken a few online classes through the University of Regina mainly because I live 2.5 hours away and needed to continue working as I completed my masters degree. I have not had the luxury to just take a course for fun…like a MOOC therefore all my classes have been credit based. I have taken really good online courses and some bad to really bad ones. Amy Singh described LMS as a “one size fits all” mentality. The one size fits all model allows people to not be surprised, have clear boundaries and expectations as well as it allows them to stick to the syllabus. It is a truly safe place to be. There are parts of this model that I like and that work well for me. I like that I know what is expected of me. I like that it is organized and guided so that I always know what I am supposed to read, when and what I have to do with the reading. The closed online classes that I have really liked had options within the course. Some offered a choice of reading so that you were reading to your interest. Some had an open research paper option that allowed you to read and write about something that pertained to you, your interest and/or your work. Some had discussion forums that were relevant and engaging and added to our learning. Of course in all of the good there were classes that did the opposite.
On the other hand there are those that like freedom, challenge, surprise and the ability to go beyond the syllabus. I am slowly becoming more open to this type of learning. I think that open learning is more challenging in a school setting. Kids are not trained to be self educators yet. They thrive on structure and guidance. I do think that there is opportunities for open learning within the closed format. It is important to give students choice, allow for deeper understanding (scaffolding), ask open ended questions, allow student to guide their learning and be the guide not the dictator. Amy listed great questions at the end of her post that allows students to find their voice. Worth the read!
I believe that closed online spaces have potential for authentic learning and discussions with the right design and guidance.