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Us and me: Community building and open self

As I am not a lecturer but a human resource developer, I had a certain respect for the topic of open education. On the other hand, I was curious to learn more about the possibilities of open source and sharing – as a participant AND (maybe) also as a provider.

When I attended the ONL webinar with Maha Bali, I was absolutely inspired: Not only did Maha introduce me to the topic while “walking the talk” by sharing many helpful open resources, but there was also so much relevance to my daily work.

Community Building

For example, as the leader of a mentoring programme, I can particularly relate to the importance of community building. Our mentoring programme is complemented by workshops and there is a focus on participants using and maintaining their network and exchange between them. During the pandemic, I found the community building to be the hardest part to make possible online. What is the best way to get to know each other, find common ground, build trust, and learn from each other in a remote context?

Some methods I found helpful were simple check-in and check-out rituals, warm-up activities (e.g., liberating structures) and small group discussions (break-out sessions). Even if these interventions take time, they are absolutely worth the investment. In this aspect, I felt reinforced by the webinar and learned about new sources (e.g., onehe.org) of how to facilitate community building in online settings.

Open Self

I was also intrigued by Maha’s concept of self as OER (or open self): Openness as a worldview, an attitude. I can absolutely relate to this and would like to reflect on my own open identity:

  • Changeable person

I can say that I am very open to feedback, always consider different perspectives, am willing to change my mind or join a group decision even though I might disagree. I love trying new things, even if that means failing sometimes. Fortunately, I work in an agile workplace where this attitude is widely supported.

  • Narrative practice

I don’t usually share my own learning or developing processes publicly. I just share them with my team or peers. I think this is something I could improve, open the range.

  • Make ourselves vulnerable

I don’t mind sharing half-baked thoughts or critical views with others in my network. I even see this as a chance to get feedback. On the other hand, I hesitate to put anything out in public that is not completely and carefully thought through, so as not to make myself attackable. In this regard, I’m taking little steps, for example with this blog… 🙂

  • Negotiation of knowledge

To take up the example of my mentoring programme again, I am very interested and willing to share my knowledge, experiences, templates, etc. with others. I have already been contacted by several individuals who were interested in launching a mentoring programme themselves or were already offering one and wished to share experiences. I see these exchanges very much as win-win situations. My own progress could be to actively address other programme owners instead of waiting for them to contact me…



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