Reflecting on Responses to “As We May Think”

Wondering whether an associative thinking exercise could weave together reflections from bloggers and gain insight into general and liberal education.  Answer is yes.

Information literacy as a learning outcome offers a hopeful vision of creativity and flow as students develop awareness of their own associative trails and perspective on those of others–in other words as they perceive themselves in context of other learners and dare to try collective learning beyond the print book. As they learn in these new ways, they find it easier to cross disciplinary boundaries and go after the kinds of wicked problems so many educators hope they’ll address.  They could revitalize the humanities through collective historical and interpretive work across disciplines and fields. Problem-centered, creative, engaged learning guides college education. How lovely is that!

Below are the passages I used in the exercise.  It was way fun!

Autumm Caines writes “for me it is a call for better general and liberal education. I think the first step may just be in realizing (and getting students to realize) that my internet is different from your internet. Where possible, taking ownership for our own ‘associative trails’ and demanding that ownership when it is kept from us. Finally, simply realizing that there are political forces and companies with lots of your data… which has always been the case but maybe realizing that they are trying to influence you in increasingly intimate ways” writes: “If we work to understand the hows and whys of information creation and flow, what I would call information literacy, then presumably we will be better able to review our shady present. That would  elevate my spirit. Until then, there’s always Aretha” “One for the Hippie Hub.” 

Morris Pelzel: “Jon Udell, I believe, used the phrase ‘context is a service we provide each other.’ I’m still puzzling out what this means, but I’m guessing that it refers to the ideal of accessing and processing information, not in an abstract and depersonalized manner, but within the context of other learners and practitioners in ‘trust networks.’ And that’s the difference between reading ‘As We May Think’ on my own, and working through it in this community, this network of fellow learners.” “Notes and Trails”

Erin Crane, Librarian reflects on actual challenges of working with students who prefer physical books to annotatable e-text in “Are We There Yet?”

Samantha Veneruso imagines ways to help students learn through integrative thinking and problem solving: “I can see how Bush was looking at the depth of information increasing, but as he talks about new forms of encyclopedias because of new associations of knowledge, I think of the idea of solving wicked problems, and the increasing intersection of disciplines– or the break downs of strict disciplines, which I think is characteristic of where we are going today in education or where we should be going today.” “Connections and Associations” 

John Stewart’s “Open Note Databases” observes, “While we certainly hope that our database will be used by and be useful to historians of chemistry, the real point of the project is to enable the collaborative epistemology proposed by Vannevar Bush. History and humanities more generally are dominated by the single-author article and monograph, so a system built to pool research notes may seem counterintuitive. However, we need to remember that the point of these publications is to share our knowledge. If we all share our coffee stained notebooks, idiosyncratic excel files, and shoeboxes full of notecards, we can engage in deeper and more nuanced studies in the history of chemistry and science more broadly. Without sacrificing traditional academic products, we can collectively populate searchable, interlinked reference guides that will accelerate research and model our methodologies for the generations to come.”

Toward Open and Liberal Learning?

Reading “Fifty Shades of Open” by Jeffrey Pomerantz and Robin Peek in First Monday one considers the parallel between the growth of fan fiction and the growth of *open* across the array of meanings the word carries.  It is a tempting if baffling parallel.  Wondering how to grasp a meaning of *open,* I thought of questions for Open Learning ’17.  What do the principles and practices of open learning share with liberal education and undergraduate general education—teaching, learning, and assessment in practice right now?  What utility in bringing together liberal education practitioners with open learning practitioners?  The Faculty Collaboratives project at AAC&U has been supporting and nurturing communities of practice among educators for liberal and general education.  Why?  We want to offer the best possible college education to all students, no matter their program or type of institution they attend.  There is a focused and principled goal for the project.  We’re building networks and infrastructure for educators across states and state systems so that they can in turn do their best work in meeting and reaching all students.  We want to emphasize the learning and success of the large numbers of undergraduate students who have the most to benefit from higher education.  Students who have not been served well by public education are first in my mind and in the minds of many colleagues. Equity in student success is a great goal. That is the story I offered Gardner Campbell in the interview at I hope students will benefit if we do a better job of collaborating as educators across communities within and among states and state systems. As I see it, the experiment of Open Learning ‘17 will give us a chance to answer the questions above.  I confess I want to find stronger ties than I am seeing right now.  It is true that information literacy is one of the outcomes of the Liberal Education and America’s Promise or LEAP initiative  Will we find richer points of convergence?


First Post

This is my first post for Open Learning.  I’ve created a blog and am now linking my posts by a feed to the Open Learning collectivist MOOC.  This cMOOC is an  experiment organized by the Virginia Open Learning initiative as part of a project with the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U;  The easy way to understand:  This cMOOC will try an experiment in community building for academics who are devoted to general and liberal education and who want to collaborate in using open education resources.  It’s a crossover project, a boundary-crossing project.  I am hoping that the collective of people who join the MOOC will make discoveries together.  If we do, we can advance liberal education for all students by working within a larger community of educators than we may have been reaching.  It’s all about liberal education, inclusive pedagogies, and open learning together.  That sounds easier than it is going to be!

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