Open Ed dropout..and drop-in

 dropout [ˈdrɒpˌaʊt] n
1. (Social Science / Education) a student who fails to complete a school or college course
2. (Sociology) a person who rejects conventional society
3. (Team Sports / Rugby) drop-out Rugby a drop kick taken by the defending team to restart play, as after a touchdown
4. (Electronics) drop-out Electronics a momentary loss of signal in a magnetic recording medium as a result of an imperfection in its magnetic coating                        


The word dropout has such a negative connotation— it becomes about the person or the course and I have come to the conclusion that it is really about neither—it is about seeing learning as a continuum.  I am choosing to see my drop-out/drop-in as “a momentary loss of signal” as in the electronics definition above.  One of the most reassuring aspects of participating in #etmooc has been the opportunity to pick up where I last left off and take what I want. 

When I consider the strengths and stretches of open education, which to date has only been participating in some simpleK12 sessions as well as enrolling and participating in #etmooc  I note the following:

Things that work for me

  • Accessible and cost effective. From a remote and rural small town I am able to access learning that is current, relevant to my practice and affordable (if not free).
  • Connected to a number of teachers/learners.  Through social media or an open community I can connect with like-minded individuals and be helped –this was the case a number of times in the first two weeks of #etmooc as I tried to connect via skype, twitter or even get my Toontastic video posted to my blog.  I also tweeted out a question about assessment and oral language and had Anne Davies reply to me—she was very kind and asked me to call her at home on Family Day to offer assistance to me.
  • Archived. Open learning can fit into my schedule—sometimes it was impossible to participate in a 4 pm #etmooc session so the option to watch a session at my own convenience was beneficial. The chat on the side is interesting and helps me as I can question others or ask for clarification but I find that piece missing when it is not in real time.
  • Ungraded. I can drop in when I feel like (this would obviously be different if I was taking a course for credit) and feel that this shifts the focus more towards learning for the sake of learning instead of getting a mark.

Things that make me wonder/wander

  • Sheer size. How can such a large student-teacher ratio create a personalized learning environment `and how would a teacher manage that?  I wonder if this is what Verena Roberts calls peeragogy—where everyone is a teacher and learner?  How are open education environments able to manage the different abilities and interests of all participants? In Alec Couros’ September 21, 2012 blog post he discusses moving towards an unmooc where learners determine the nature of the journey and I think this is a pretty cool idea.  I think it parallels the idea of personalized learning that the BC Ed Plan alludes to and may even be a direction that moocs take in the future.
  • Trust and anonymity in a public place. At times when writing on forums or blogs I feel that I am guilty of skimming the surface instead of “getting down and dirty” with some educational issues because it is a public forum. I find that sometimes the best learning for me occurs after the record button is off and people are candid with one another.  I am not sure how one would create an open learning environment where people can freely express their thoughts and learning as everything is cached and you may only want to put your “best” out there—especially if you are being graded or are fearful that there could be retribution.  This makes me think of Jarrod Bell’s comment that “the internet was never meant to private.”

I have been feeling somewhat guilty about my inability to follow every #etmooc session but Jill Walters’ recent blog post  mentioned Darren Kuropatwa’s session and it has piqued my interest so now I am going to spend time this weekend watching the archived session.  Is an archived session still an open education experience?  It is for me at this time—the signal was momentarily lost but I am back in!

P.S.  I have even RSVP’d for CEET’s  Beyond the Bake Sale—Building Community in Schools and Districts session in April.  I will be participating but can’t guarantee a certificate of completion :)