Is openness addictive?

Currently I am participating in a German online course “TBDL 04” (technology based distributed learning, modul 4: pedagogy II – online instructional design).

It is designed as a planning role game, and it has great contents: lots of diligently and fondly crafted scenarios, stories, settings, role descriptions, challenge descriptions, teams and groups and so on. We are playing five fictituous universities planning 5 modules for a program called “key literacies in learning and teaching”, and lots of the accreditation details are lifelike modelled, even including the contact to the ministry.

The only problem is that it is a closed group. Nine people paid 410 Euros each, and so all of this great setting is only available to the few of us, which is really a pity. Many of the resources and discussions are hidden within even smaller groups which, by default, cannot see what the others are doing.

Here I noticed that I am not at all comfortable with this closedness. When CCK08 started, I was similarly unconfortable with its extreme openness. Is this openness addictive? Right from the beginning of TBDL04 I missed the medium where I could note down my impressions and reflections to share it with the others. CCK08 made us accustomed to share our messy learning and think “in the open”. Of course I could have created a wiki page “x28’s musings”, but if the general atmosphere is more silent, this would not help much.

The opensource LMS platform “OLAT” (which was new to me) does have RSS working in the authenticated intranet, but I have not yet figured out how it could be used for blog-like pull/push combination. Probably this is not intended. My first impressions of OLAT is that it seems very patronizing and linear.

  • Only predefined backward moves are allowed (the browser’s back button is prohibited),
  • and branching via “open in new window” is impossible, too.

If attempting the latter, the ironical answer is “In Web 2.0 mode, you cannot open links in a new window.” (emphasis mine), which makes web2.0-like collaboration via a wiki almost impossible, since you cannot lookup previous pages while thinking about a new text. In page-turner inspired applications, the linear route seems efficient. But I don’t like to be walked-through as a bobsleigh in the ice channel. Probably I am spoilt by openness.

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2 Responses to Is openness addictive?

  1. Your experience in open (CCK08) & technology based distributed learning, modul 4: pedagogy II – online instructional design sounds interesting. Is openness addictive? First, I am not sure if openness is interpreted the same for the participants of the course (of an open and closed course). So would it be necessary to define openness at a course level and an individual level? In social networks, I am accustomed to openness. However, I don’t think I am that equally open when it comes to other situations like work, due to complicated factors. So, would openness be dependent upon the context? Even in CCK08, different people seemed to prefer to be opened to certain connections, people, ideas, and so once the course was finished, most have gone their way with their own openness journey.
    Thanks for your insights.

  2. x28 says:

    You are right that there are different levels of openness, which adds another level of complexity to the decision about what to write where (while previously I thought this would be easier in a sheltered, closed space!). In the role-play scenario, the different levels of real-life discussion and played-roles were adding still more confusion.

    Reflecting about this, I think a role-play needs a particularly good wiki, providing an intuitive interface for switching between Article Page (for the texts by the simulated identity or played role) and Page Comment (for real life annotations). Simulated emails (among the played identities) would similarly need to be separated from the real-life email, perhaps in a forum or a special wiki disguised as inbox.

    Many open questions, and the more roles and different group audiences and group access-rights, the more distracting is this learning environment from the topic under study (which in TBDL case, was also a “meta” level, namely learn how to learn). Anyway, I have quit my role.

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