Just now I am in a process of launching this new website Sångshyttan Art. One part of what I want to offer is online courses in sustainable leadership connected to food. To do this I need to learn more about how to offer both digital and on-site courses. How do I reach out to prospective customers? I bought a course about building a mailing list with people interested in what I am doing, willing to follow me and listen to what I have to say. In order to do that I have worked on finding my specific target group and trying to get to know them and preparing content to send out every week. The idea is to give away a lot of content for free and by doing so, capture their attention and eventually be able to sell courses to them. This is a work that feels like I need to “trick” someone to into a relationship with me and my content, even if my mission is to be authentic, true to myself and to my place. But, saying that, I do believe that I can be true to myself if I stay connected with my core values.
When I applied to the ONL course I decided to use my new website blog as my media for communication and to let the blog be about both my own, private company as well as my work as a university teacher. When trying to understand more about open learning I end up with one overall question that comes back to me: where does the founding come from, who is paying? How do I know? At the university I get paid by the Swedish citizens and in my own company I have to find people or companies to pay me for my expertise. In the end there will be a question of money and interest behind the founding’s. Who own the resources and the knowledge?
In regard to that I was fascinated when I heard David Wiley in TEDxNYED (2010) telling the quote from English Law in the 15 centuries: whoever reads the Scriptures in mother tongue, shall forfeit land, cattle, life and goods from their heirs forever, and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown and most arrant traitors to the land. The 39 citizens found guilty to this crime was both hanged and burned. Somebody in power was very keen indeed to keep this sacred knowledge for themselves…. I wonder to what extent the academic world is one of the gatekeepers of knowledge of today? At the university a lot is about getting published in the “right” journals and to wright your article and not share your content elsewhere. There is a fear around giving materials away for someone else to use and maybe publish. This I think is hindering a lot of openness around knowledge. Many of the journals does not have open access and therefore difficult to find and being expensive for people to get hold of if they are not already in the academia.
In this ONL course we look at different perspective of openness. In the short video by Watson (2014) Learning Management Systems (LMS) is compared to the usage of the open web. The LMS is described as a safe environment where both students and teachers can get technical support. The open web in the other hand is described as a cloud of huge possibilities and as a place where most of young students feel at ease using different tools. In my work as a teacher at the university a agree with many of the voices in the video. I use Blackboard as a LMS and I find that it works well according to assignments but not as good when working practical with for example a design process. In this moment in time there is a huge expansion of different online tools to use. I almost get dizzy in order to get hold of some of them. I think it is important to find some tools, learn to use them and try to stay simple and clear. It is also very much a matter of building a holding space for the students, a holding space of trust. I do not think that the primary driver for openness in education is technology, I think it goes hand in hand with pedagogical tools that supports the students to find their own voice, gaining their courage and self-confidence. I have learned a great deal of how to create a holding space from Presencing Institute and U-theory. They have managed to launch a EdX MOOC course called U-lab where I attended together with several thousand other students. It was free (you had to pay to get a certificate). The course is for me a role model in how to get people involved using their head, heart and hand and called to action.
EdX (2021). U-lab. Retrieved 210405 from: https://learning.edx.org/course/course-v1:MITx+15.671.1x+3T2016/home
TEDxNYED (2010) Presenting David Wiley. Retrieved 210405 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M
Watson, K. (2014) Learning management system or the open web?, Learning to teach online UNSW.