Risk taking & vulnerability in open courses – get over it?

Today in an Elluminate session there was some discussion about how people feel about putting themselves out there in open courses. Great topic!  One possible response I’ve heard (I don’t’ think in our session, but elsewhere): get over it.

Well, ok. But that’s a bit flip/easy, and probably comes from people who are already over it. It gets circular: to get over it, you have to do it. But you have a hard time doing it because you’re not over it yet.

So it becomes about how to get over it.

This is not special to open courses/technology – it’s the same in traditional/f2f classrooms: speaking up in class, doing presentations (we’ve often heard people are more afraid of public speaking than death, right?). And so it’s that, on a LARGER scale, PLUS technology, which CAN add another layer of stress. Having yourself (images, audio, ideas) out there the first few times is weird. At least it’s weird for enough people that it needs to be addressed if we’re going to approach teaching/learning in this open way.

Some experiences I’ve had that make getting over it possible, in cck09 and in general:

  • someone comments on a blog post or moodle forum posting I’ve made, sharing their ideas, expanding the topic, and showing me that they’re thinking along similar lines
  • someone re-tweets or responds to a tweet
  • someone commented on a slideshare presentation i posted recently
  • my stuff ends up in the digest, and I can see it as a part of the network

I really think it’s that simple – you need to have positive experiences of being “out there”…and, actually, of being “in there”, as a part of the network. You need to see yourself (and be seen) in a positive (or at least not negative) light.  Nobody wants to be attacked or look foolish (or feel like that’s happening).

Of course, I’m not saying we can’t disagree, debate, or provide critical feedback.  In fact, once you start doing it, the key thing that makes it a “positive” experience is people engaging in your ideas (not just reassuring you directly or indirectly that you don’t look dumb), because then you’re a productive part of the network. And that’s ultimately what we’re here for: the learning.

Anyway, here’s my answer and aim: The Golden Rule. Do (online, in the network) unto others as you would have them do unto you. It comes down to acknowledging others’ efforts, engaging with their ideas. Nothing new here, just doing it online, in these networked channels, in these new ways.

Maybe this conversation needs to happen at the beginning of open courses? So the Golden Rule seeds could be more explicitly planted in the community, particularly for those who don’t come to an open course already actively blogging, tweeting, posting, etc – it’s a culture in and of itself.  In the case of cck09, we are encouraged, explicitly, to read and comment on others’ work.  And we are given tools/ways to find others’ work easily (tags, the digest).  I think when I take on the challenge of “designing” an open course (and I’m very keen to!), I will create some time and space to explore and address this explicitly, in real time, at the beginning.

3 thoughts on “Risk taking & vulnerability in open courses – get over it?

  1. suifaijohnmak

    Hi Tracy,
    I resonate with your views. “So the Golden Rule seeds could be more explicitly planted in the community, particularly for those who don’t come to an open course already actively blogging, tweeting, posting, etc – it’s a culture in and of itself.” More engagement starts from each of “us”. No change, no gain. We all support each other especially when we are vulnerable. That sets the spirit of empowerment. So grateful to learn from you.

  2. idwad Post author

    Hi John – thanks for your thoughts. the only thing i wonder about is…if we all write more in an effort to support each other, think about how MUCH more material there will be for us to read! But is that bad? Nah, i think we have to forget about trying to read everything anyway. I am trying to find a good balance between reading a *lot* and writing *some*. And so far, I read what strikes me (for one reason or another), but the more I connect with individuals, I start seeking out their stuff too. How do you decide what to read?

  3. Sui Fai John Mak

    Hi Tracy,
    Thanks for your sharing. Well said, if we have written too much material on the topic, people could get overwhelmed. A balance is important. We don’t have to read everything, agreed. I used various tools in filtering posts or artefacts. I usually scan first before deciding to read the details of blog (via google reader) or forum posts (via emails). I would focus on the ideas and experience that are new/interesting, that would challenge me to think and learn,or if there is a new tool that I could try. I would also ensure that I am connected both to the person (behind the ideas)(for engagement and interaction) and to the ideas. It takes time, patience and respect to establish such rapport. Listening to me is the key and challenge. How about you?


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