Sharing is Caring!

‘Sharing is caring’.  A catchphrase which, together with Barney the purple dinosaur, I have attempted to engrain into the intellectual capacities of my kids.  At times it has been a successful reminder. At other times it has not worked so well.

16-year-old: ‘Mom, it’s my necklace.  I’ve taken care of it for such a long time…. What if she loses it!? She just cannot take things from my room without first asking’.   Yet her sister would easily let her have anything that is hers.  #CreativeCommons  # SharingandOpeness

13-year-old: ‘Mom its unfair that the Cassio has been in her room for almost a month, it’s my turn to have it in my room.’  We should both enjoy the benefit of it’.   Yet there is a piano downstairs. #negotiateANDshare

3-year-old: ‘Mamma it’s my Pepper Pig’.    The anxiety of a 3-year-old who does not want to let go of what is his, because he is afraid that he would lose ownership of it. #IntellectualPropertyRights #credit

The idea of sharing and open learning is not a foreign concept to me, given my (or anyone else’s) experiences in bringing up kids. The common themes that arise from rearing my brood are very are analogous to adults faced with the prospect of sharing:

  1. We are anxious about others using our work without giving us credit.
  2. We instinctually want to hold on to what belongs to us, because we want to enjoy the greater benefit of it.
  3. Fear of work being abused or taken out of context
  4. Quality assurance of available material.

In as much as the anxiety is real to any of us who write, publish, invest hours of time and effort in developing our material, the greater benefit of sharing our work to benefit a greater audience of peers and students cannot be overstated.

Very much like Star Trek, sharing and openness takes teaching and learning where no student or educator has gone before:  Cyberspace. A space where we voluntarily offer our knowledge to enable our colleagues to augment the learning experience for their students.  Not all students can afford to buy a textbook. I is so much easier for them to access an OER so as to enable them to gain the same advantages as those who can afford it.  It places learning on an even level. It provides a greater reach of a developers work, beyond geographical borders.[1]

We develop each other as educators.  I learn so much from sharing with my peers at The IIE Varsity College. They adapt and reuse my material, as relevant to their specific modules, as I do with their material.  This community of sharing and openness has enabled us to support each other, towards a common goal: Developing each other in a teaching and learning space, whilst meeting the outcomes of each module, with a studentcentric approach in mind. Our students become lifelong learners, as do we as educators[2].  The more we adapt, reuse, remix each others material, the more its quality is enhanced and made relevant. OER supports our educational and professional development by enabling us to be each other’s editors and supporters. The user chooses which material to use.  Just as hard copies of material range from relevant to non relevant, great quality to that that which is not, it is up to individual users, to sift through it in deciding which of those to use.  The same applies to OER’s.

So, just as my 13year-old now asks her sister’s permission to borrow her stuff, so too do creative commons licences come in to enable us to borrow the work of others and use it in a manner that benefits future users.  Just as my 13-year-old and 16-year-old have learned to negotiate and share the use of the Cassio, so too do we as educators need to negotiate the limits and extent to which we desire to share our own and each other’s material.  This is the reason why creative commons licences are so important.  In providing us with options as to the extent or terms of our sharing, it is in effect enabling us to share on our own terms.

Just as my 3 year olds anxiety surrounding losing ownership of his Pepper Pig has somewhat dissipated in baby steps, the same is required of those who are sceptical about the benefit of OER’s.  It starts with sharing a single document and seeing how that works for you.

We all lend to completing each other’s puzzle in the sharing process.

[1] Yuan, Li, Stephen Powell, and JISC CETIS. “MOOCs and open education: Implications for higher education.” (2013).

[2] Weller, M., (2012). The openness-creativity cycle in education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2012(1), p.Art. 2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/2012-02

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Down the rabbit hole with digital literacy!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.[1] It is  this wonderfully imaginative and chaotic book that comes to mind when I reflect upon my experience  on digital literacy , i.e. Topic 1 of ONL 171.  To state that I was overwhelmed and beyond my depth would be an understatement.  I followed the white rabbit (Alistair Creelman), out of intense curiosity, and literally fell down a rabbit hole of online platforms, PBL groups and adobe connect meetings.  Strange yet exciting and magical creatures!  I found myself in constant anxiety of missing group meetings because of the differences in time zones (I’m late! I’m late…. I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!),  and I felt like I had taken a seat at the Mad Hatters Tea Party with my PBL family featuring as the main characters….Do not ask who the Mad Hatter was!!!!

 Yet, just like Alice, I persisted.  I took a bite out of the caterpillar’s mushroom ( Mohamed and Lieza) which enabled me to grow…not to the extent that Alice physically did, but to the extent that I needed to grow for the purposes of appreciating the benefit of digital literacy in the  teaching and learning space.

 One ‘may learn a lot of things from the flowers’, in terms of understanding the social obligation of belonging to a team, i.e. PBL group.[2] You are only as strong as your weakest link, and as such you cannot afford to be the weakest link or else you pull the entire team down with you.  I have no intentions of being the Red Queen!!!  The interconnectedness between members of the group spanning across continents, on a Google community has in itself been the most beneficial source of digital literacy for me, on this particular course.

We discuss, investigate, problem solve and collaborate as a single unit, resulting in presentations  that could possibly be resourced and referenced.  It fascinates me that we are able to do this as cohesive unit, inspite of the physical separation of oceans, continents and professions between us.  This very idea of interconnectedness on digital platforms has enabled me to appreciate its potential for legal education. We have in effect contributed to digital literacy.

On a personal level, I found myself pushing boundaries on platforms that I would have otherwise felt insecure .  I found myself exploring APS and online programmes to put together an awesome group introduction.  I would have never known what the benefits of Smilebox[3] or Magisto[4] was, unless I had stepped out of the boat and walked on water!

I find myself gravitating from being a digital/online visitor to an online resident , and I am no longer intimidated by it[5]. Engaging in and adapting in this ‘Wonderland’ of sorts has been quite a cultural paradigm shift for me,[6] and a beneficial one at that!  With that having been said, I believe that these experiences would enable me to understand my law students better.  There is no better way to reach this online/digital generation, than on their own stage.

Needless to say, this experience has produced irrefutable evidence of the benefits of Digital Literacy to teaching and learning as a whole. With that said, I will paint the roses red, because the colour of Google + and Google communities are looking really appealing right now! Yes…I just typed that out smiling like a Cheshire cat!

[1] Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, New York:MacMillan. (1865).

[2] Swan, Karen, and Li Fang Shih. “On the nature and development of social presence in online course discussions.” Journal of Asynchronous learning networks 9.3 (2005): 115-136.

[3] http://www.smilebox.com/?utm_expid=59694859-491.rTOvQJdCQoWerUFXgoqXOQ.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.za%2F

[4] https://www.magisto.com

[5] Marc Prensky, 2001a, “Digital natives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon, volume 9, number 5, at http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf, accessed 13 March 2017

[6] Henry Jenkins with Ravi Purushotma, Katherine Clinton, Margaret Weigel and Alice J. Robison, 2006. “Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21 Century,” Chicago: MacArthur Foundation. http://www.projectnml.org/files/working/NMLWhitePaper.pdf, accessed 13 March 2017.