On finding a tribe of one’s own.

A reflection on To Take Charge of Your Career, Start by Building Your Tribe by Gianpiero Petriglieri posted April 05, 2018 to the Harvard Business Review and my own experiences with Ontario Extend.

I was led to this article during my morning scan of twitter. I wish I could tell who shared it, but the twitter tide has swept that away. I am also going to do something in this post that I caution my students against; I am going to heavily quote from the original article. I generally encourage students to put the ideas they find in a literature review into their own words, but in this case, I don’t believe I can do it better and I want to relate what reading those works evoked in my mind about my experiences with Ontario Extend.

I joined Ontario Extend as a personal professional development project as St. Clair College, my work home, encourages faculty to pursue PD during May and June. Unfortunately, most of the available PD outside of the Faculty Retreat just doesn’t speak to me. My colleague, Marko Jovanovic often describes me as “paying a game of 3-D chess in my head” apparently against myself or maybe against the man (shakes fist in the air) because I want to think about and debate crazy ideas and connections that occur to me that are simply not on others’ radar. This often leaves me feeling out of step and, frankly, lonely. I was expecting to find it interesting and challenging. I did not expect to find it affirming. I did not expect to find my people, my tribe.

“We can only become the person whose story we can keep telling and acting out in the world” (Petriglieri, 2018).

Here, I am going to digress a bit and bring in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I don’t go to work to fulfill my social or self-esteem needs. I take care of these at home with a circle of close friends and family. I have no patience for small talk. It’s not that I don’t care what you did on the weekend or that you found a great deal on _______________ (fill in the blank), it is just there is this important stuff going on, there is a big semester clock ticking  in my head and time for our students is running out and I want to talk about work first. At work, I am working out my self-actualization needs. I am working on becoming my authentic self and developing mastery in my work.

“Most useful and precious among our illusions, my research suggests, is the illusion of one’s self as masterful — able to endure adversity, experience freedom, and be of service to others” (Petriglieri, 2018).

Man at desk with back to camera and face visible in a small mirro.
Photo by Edgar Pereira on Unsplash

Adversity, freedom and service, now that is powerful stuff. Reminds me of parents’ teaching and the dutch work ethic I was raised with. I go to work, not just show up in the building. I put up with the crap (and as my mom would say, there is crap in every job, except she would never use the word crap) so that I can have the freedom to take care of me and mine so that I have the ability to help others. If mastery is the feeling that I got this, then most of the time I am there but…. there is some self-doubt and again, loneliness.

“Instead of demanding conformity in exchange for safety, such communities keep our working lives exciting and us stable, ultimately helping us master our working lives” (Petriglieri, 2018).

Are you ready for some Ontario Extend stuff? In Ontario Extend, I have found a community and an experience that is both dynamic and supportive. If you read any of the recent post in this blog, you will already know that I struggled fiercely with the Scholar module. But my Extend West community was there offering clarity, ideas, and support. On twitter and through the weekly lunch meetings, I received new angles to consider and a very strong message that not only am I determined and on fire, I am capable.

Petirglieri’s article is all about tribes and their value. But not all tribes are created equally. Some tribes demand conformity that stifles growth. Good tribes inspire mastery.

Petirglieri (2018) lists three characteristics of tribes “that help us be masters of our working life:”

  • encourage us to show up generously in the world
  • let us take risks to try something new
  • raise the questions that help us explore the edges of our competence and identity, or send us in new directions

This is Ontario Extend. It is like the perfect elevator pitch for why you should become an extender! The Collaborator module shows us how to become part of the community and encourages us to both give and receive in our Personal Learning Network. The Domain of One’s Own/Blogging/Extend Activities provides opportunity to gently enter the practice of working out-loud and sharing our real selves. The Experimenter module and Daily Extends invites us to play, to try, to create and Technologist module takes us through a process of how we can extend these principles to our practice for the betterment of student learning. The Teaching for Learning module allows us to explore our identity. The Curator module  helps us realize that we are already curators and that our discernment adds value. The Scholar modules gives us a path to developing new competences and to using real data to improve our practice. And new directions?? How about open learning, Open Education Resources, Creative Commons, students as collaborators and co-creators, authentic assessment, Universal Design for Learning, accessibility and more tech tools than you knew existed! It is truly a work changing experience, if you let it be. And that is the key.

“Hard as you might look, my work suggests, you cannot find such communities. You must build them yourself” (Petriglieri, 2018).

Tall, old buildings and a tree reflected in a puddle in the street.
Photo by AC Almelor on Unsplash

Well, in the case of Ontario Extend, you can find such a community but you have to make it real. There is an amazing group of educators in the extend community – electic, passionate, inquisitive, supportive, expressive, brave, and most of all, open. But to really benefit from the community, you need to embrace the tribe. You have to become an extender – to expand your thinking, to increase your risk-taking, to enlarge your circle of colleagues, to stretch your comfort zone,  to reach your hand to accept the offered friendship and to grasp the hand of the next person seeking support. Ontario Extend built the first four houses on the block but it is up to us to keep building the community.

 

“And yet we need those open communities, those peculiar tribes. Without them, it would be impossible to remember who we are and to imagine who we might become” (Petriglieri, 2018).

Through out the past 10 weeks of my extending adventure, I have been reminded of where I have been and I have drawn on past experiences, I have been able to better define where I am now and I can see new paths to explore. I remember who I am as an educator and I am excited about who I can yet become as an educator. And best of all, I am not alone.

A crowd at a party with water showing their reflection in silhouette
Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

Featured Image: Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

 

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Amateur Work in SoTL

Hmmmm…. so what is the Amateur work in SoTL. A quick search on my favorite engine brought up a few perspectives:

Peter Felten (2013), in Principles of Good Practice in SoTL, describes an “amateur culture [that]  of­ten makes US SoTL more of a methodological and theoretical mutt than its cousins from other countries” (p. 121).

Michael Potter and Brad Wuetherick (2015) concluded in Who is Represented in the Teaching Commons?: SoTL Through the Lenses of the Arts and Humanities that  “as a result of social science dominance in SoTL, many humanist faculty members and educational developers find that they are either excluded from participating or forced to adopt a different identity … to be considered “legitimate” SoTL scholars” (p. 2)

Okay, so amateur work is this idea that folks do participate in SoTL activities from different disciplines and others may think they are not doing it right. I can live with that. I am reminded of Douglas Hubbard’s How to Measure Anything. I read this for personal professional development a few years ago and plan to review it again in the July/August period. There are a few ideas from Hubbard’s work that stick with me:

  1. You can measure anything, even things you thought could not be measured.
  2. Making decisions with some data is better than relying on gut instinct or expert opinions.
  3. When you know nothing, anything you find out will lead to a better decision.
  4. Use a model and a plan.

One of the stories he uses to illustrate this is of Emily Rosa, a nine year old girl who designed an experiment to measure the validity of therapeutic touch. She was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Am I intimidated by OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module? Yes. Am I going to keep doing it? Yes. Because after reviewing SoTL the value statements, I am going to focus on:

  • Faculty development opportunities.
  • Renewed faculty excitement about teaching and greater self-awareness.

So what if I am an amateur. So was everyone else the first time they tried SoTL. Even if folks were able to generalize their skills from other research or they current disciplines, there was still their first time. Like a child coloring a picture, I am not going to worry about going outside the lines. I will aim for joy in the process and something I can hang on my fridge!

Featured Image: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Scholar Module: A Beginning

OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module begins with a review of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). So what is SoTL?

Here are a few definitions:

  • Randy Bass, in the video Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, describes SoTL as “faculty undertaking systematic inquiry of learning in his or her own classroom” (0:07).
  • Boyer (1990) defined SoTL as “is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level” (as cited in What is SoTL?, n.d., para. 1).
  • According to the Journal of Financial Education (2016), “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) considers teaching as a scholarly endeavor that is worthy of research designed to produce a body of knowledge open to critique and evaluation. SoTL uses reflection, discovery, analysis, and evidence-based procedures to research effective teaching, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning outcomes.” (para. 1).

What is my personal take? I think SoTL is the process of trying out something new in your practice to help students, checking to see if it worked, modifying and trying again if it didn’t, and sharing with others if it did. Rinse, repeat. Is there is terribly simplified take on SoTL? Darn right, skippy, because otherwise I am going to be too chicken to try it. It seems awfully intimidating a thing to try and now I am afraid of amateur work as noted by Nancy Chick (approx. 8:38 minutes) in the Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning video. I don’t know what amateur work is but now I am freaked out that anything I try would be considered that and that sounds bad. I am going to research that next and I will be sure the put it in italics whenever I mention it. 

The first exercise asks for three SoTL Characteristics the resonate with me. That part was easy so let’s get that out-of-the-way:

  1. Inquiry – I already have a lot of questions, some of them interesting, some are why and most are what if.
  2. Closing the loop – If I do this in the class, this will happen. Did It? Let’s check, modify and do it again.
  3. Being public about the findings – seem to fit with an Open Educator persona.

There, I have a beginning!

Featured image(I call it “Time to get science-y”): Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Making Sense of Open Education, Final Reflection

Today is the last day of the Making Sense of Open Education Mini-MOOC hosted by Jenni Hayman. It has been a 15 day whirlwind tour of Openness! I wanted to go back to the beginning and review the Course Outcomes and see where I stand in relationship.

Course learning outcomes:
On completion of this open course participants will have expanded their ability to:

  1. Describe the value of open educational practices (OEP) in their teaching and learning contexts
  2. Give examples of appropriate open educational resources (OER) for their practice
  3. Describe user permissions related to each of the Creative Commons license types
  4. Find and curate high quality OER for a course or small project
  5. Connect with other practitioners interested in exploring use of open educational resources and practices in their teaching

These were not numbered in the course, I added numbers to make giving my response easier.

My response:

One: Open educational practices add value to my teaching by allowing me the opportunity to tailor my teaching to the students in front of me now by broadening my awareness of OER sources that can better meet their needs in terms of accessibility and affordability. Beyond the choice of materials, OEP also leads me to consider how students can co-create materials and be curators of learning materials and how participating in this is a better assessment tool and holds more long-term value for student than disposable assignments. Digital Tools give me and my students the opportunity to be creators and give us the opportunity to share what we are learning with others. Because I see value in OEP, I am inspired to take action and advocate for greater openness in others and in my own institution.

Two: Can I give examples of appropriate OER for my practice? Why, yes, I can. I posted a prototype of a unit I am building for my students. It includes chapters from a OER textbook, open source images, and a CC video.

Three: Can I describe user permissions? Yup, let me do so with a Creative Commons licensed image:

Graphic showing various Creative Commons Licences.

Creative Commons licenses by Foter (CC-BY-SA)

Four: Can I curate OER resources for a small project? I did! I collected OER resources on Reflection into a padlet in a recent post.

Five: Have I connected with other practitioners of Open Education? Sure did and will continue to do so. I outlined my growing PLN in a post exploring what my connections look like. I also create a post outlining how I began to use twitter as a tool for connecting.

The Making Sense of Open Education has been a tremendously positive learning experience for me and I encourage you, my reader, to check it out soon as it will be set up as a self directed learning opportunity on Open University soon.

Featured Image photo by santiagotorrescl95 on Pixabay

Mapping my PLN

PLN Analysis by I Stewart (1)

This is my final Extend Activity for the Collaborator Module. I took my time in completing this and considered who I might like to add to my PLN. I wanted to look for some thought leaders to add, outside all the wonderful leaders that are already in my Ontario Extend network. I had already added Rajiv Jhangiani as he was a keynote speaker at a recent Open Education Summit that I attended. I added Jesse Stommel and JR Dingwall to my list.

During my thinking time, I also Zoomed with Terry Greene about some of my struggles coming up with this map. I VConnected with Helen DeWaard and Terry Greene and really enjoyed that opportunity to listen in to Festival of Learning 2018. I have appreciated reading and receiving feedback about my blog. I also joined the Making Sense of Open Education lead by Jenni Hayman and have learned from participating in the discussion forums. Later this week, I will have Zoom lunch with Alan Levine and others from Extend West!

I think my struggle with developing my PLN map came from, at that time, participating primarily through Twitter. By extending the ways I interact with other in my PLN, my map and my experiences are richer.

Linking #MakingSense18 to #oext193

Today’s Ontario Extend Daily Extend (193) asked us to imagine how students would react if we only provided feed back and no grades:

After completing the tweet, I turned to  Day 4 of the MOOC Making Sense of Open Education which was to explore Open Education Resources (OER) online. I collected some OER into a Padlet, adding articles, photos, videos and learning resources around helping student use feedback and the concept of reflective practice building on the thought of whether student know how to use the feedback we give them.

Made with Padlet

I selected one photo and one resource to try to make something new. I adapted a photo from Pixabay by stockpic and a four-page hand out from WestEd from their Formative Assessment Insight open course to create this graphic:

 

feedback

I am growing in both my knowledge and my skills through my professional development this spring but perhaps more importantly, I am becoming more naturally open by practice, practice, practice.

Day 3 – Open says me

As I reflection on the history of open education, I think about my own progression to this point. I started learning in typical school settings deciding that I was done with traditional education in the early 2000s. For work purposes, I completed two post-grad certificates in Learning Disabilities Specialities through Cambrian College which was 90% online (and distances education for me) with two practicum requirements to be completed with a mentor.

In the years following, I became unsatisfied with the professional development opportunities offered to me and I began looking for my own. I completed some more distance courses for a fee and started hearing about MOOCs. I joined my first MOOC in 2012 and completed Gamification with Kevin Werbach @kwerb ‏who also happens to be the first person I followed in Twitter. I have completed more MOOCs with Coursera and FutureLearn (my favorite platform) from education institutions in Canada, US and UK.

During the same period, I also pursued other learning online through blogs, websites and videos. I am also a gamer and began to create instructional videos for my fellow players in 2015. While I do not have many followers, my videos have been viewed in 122 countries. This and the experience of taking courses at universities in other countries through MOOCs opened my eyes to the idea of learning that can stretch over boundaries.

I am very new to Open Education. I began to study this in more depth just this year. Currently, through a MOOC on Open University called Making Sense of Open Education and through participating in OntarioExtend.

progression
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash adapted by author.

While I may not have all the definitions right, I see a connect between distance education, e-learning and MOOCs as having brought me to the point that I am interested in learning more about open learning for myself and that has started me thinking more about open education at my own institution and how I can contribute to that.