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Tag: hospitality

Thinking critically about women & care relative to openness #oer17 #critoep #femedtech

This week I attended the #OER17 conference where the theme was ‘The Politics of Open’, followed by a BERA EdTech SIG seminar entitled ‘Critical and Theoretical Approaches to EdTech Research‘. Both events were superb in terms of their scholarly engagement in the topics of open ed, edtech and their critical, political and (inter)disciplinary aspects. What’s more, it was quite startling how much synergy there was between the two events, both of which have started me wondering about the role of women, or feminist perspectives, and the theme of care relative to openness and edtech.

There are many reflections and curated resources coming out of #OER17. Indeed, I was going to write a reflective summary of the event myself. However, the tweeted snippets below prompted me to focus my reflection quite specifically on one aspect i.e. women, and/or feminism relative to openness, edtech, critical theory and political activism.

Quite honestly, reflecting back, it hit me hard in the face that so many of the voices at #OER17 were those of women.

Yeah, why were so many of the voices at #OER17 those of women?

The 3 keynote speakers were women; the plenary panel comprised 3 women and the sessions that I picked out to attend, now that I look at it, were all made up of women (yes, all!!). Indeed, a FemEdTech initiative was launched at OER17. I have to say that although I was vaguely aware of this, I hadn’t specifically planned to go along. It just so happened that my lunch buddies were going, so I tagged along. I understand feminist critiques of power and issues of gender inequality but TBH I’ve never really identified myself to any great extent with the feminist cause. For me, class struggle has always seemed to override it. Consequently I’ve not paid as much attention as I ought to feminist issues or politics. Recalling Maha’s keynote, and in light of some further thinking, maybe OER17 has just provoked that particular seed with a little more intent.

The Twitter conversation continued: it was wondered about the perceptions of others who attended the conference, particularly those of male participants/attendees. And that maybe my perception was a reflection of my network after all.

So, still scratching my head, I decided to check this out against the conference programme. As a crude measure, I simply tallied the number of male and female names listed against each session in the programme.

The figures go someway to validating my perception. Looking at the OER17 programme, women outnumber men in the open space. They outnumber men in all categories except, wait for it…. ‘policy and practice’. Interestingly, women significantly outnumber men in both the categories of ‘institutional/organizational politics’ and ‘participation & social equity’.

I’m not sure what the figures tell us, or if it’s anything surprising. However, the other thing I noticed is that openness is being shaped by a discourse of care, or things related to caring, which again has female connotations.

It was in an all female panel session that the idea of hospitality as a value of openness was put forward, and that advocating for openness might best be served from a position of empathy and care. The theme of care seems to be coming widespread across the discourse of openness. Rob Farrow’s OER17 provocation mentioned openness and the ‘ethics of care’ and David Wiley has also highlighted the relationship between open education and generosity and care:

Both education and openness, in their deepest and truest senses, seem to converge on relationships of generosity and care between human beings. I think that’s important. It has implications for the future of open education, which to be true to both “open” and “education” needs significantly more intellectual and financial investment in understanding how to enable and support the development of these relationships of generosity and care.

Indeed, Martin Oliver’s BERA keynote was entitled ‘why should we care?‘ It’s not so much ‘why should we care?’ because that’s not hard to answer, rather it’s why are open educators being summoned by a discourse of care, and to what ends? Why is it that critical or emancipatory approaches to edtech are also being called for using the language of care?

In one of her sessions, Laura Czerniewicz asked “what is it we’re not seeing?” I wonder too, and I wonder where it is we need to look and from what position.

It can’t be denied, there was much delight at OER17 regarding the critical turn that openness appears to be taking. Yet, as was noted at the plenary, it’s OK to talk the critical talk, but now we’ve got to walk the critical walk. I’m re- reading Stephen Brookfield’s ‘Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher‘ at the moment (in fact an updated edition was released this week). It’s stirring stuff and quite sobering in equal measure. It talks about ‘difficult conversations’ and a ‘loss of innocence’. Therefore, given that power can operate through discourse and the disciplinary effects we impose on ourselves, it would seem that matters raised here might just apply to one, or both, of those categories.

Either way, it looks like I’ve gotten myself a bonus OER17 #IWill. That is, #IWill engage critically and earnestly with feminist approaches and concerns relating to openness and edtech. So, who’s with me?


Cloudbusting and camping: implications for learning design #oldsmooc

One of the MOOCs that I’ve signed up for is #OLDSMOOC. The focus of which is learning design. These are my thoughts on the  first week and some initial thoughts about learning design. Right off though, I have to say that I’ve no substantive idea of what learning design actually is; is it a fancy name for something that I do already when planning learning activities, is it something quite rigorous and scientific that I’ve hitherto not been exposed to, or is it something quite new altogether – a response to the way technology is impacting teaching and learning maybe.

Any how, my major observation from week 1 relates to the OLDSMOOC learning platform (of choice??), Cloudworks. Well, it doesn’t. The objective of the week was threefold: in an area called Dreambazaar outline your dream learning design proposal, review the assemblage of proposals and then through discussion and negotiation form small teams around the selected project, and beyond that form into study circles. All of which constitutes a big ask in any body’s book, but the process was severely hampered by the functionality of the Cloudworks platform. It was ill equipped for such a large scale, intense, nuanced and interpersonal activity. It was just impossible to figure out the platform and track down all the people that you wanted to talk to, so after considerable effort and not getting very far, I decided to park myself  under the cloud entitled “Digital Identity and Social Media” that had been started by Jane Challinor (@virtualleader) and likewise with the Digilit study circle cloud, again started by Jane Challinor (actual leader it would seem). I then pasted the links to these clouds into my Evernote account and proceeded to access Cloudworks  from there. The Daily digest, with its series of links, kept me on track with all the rest of the day’s happenings and, together with my home pasted links, was how I was able to penetrate Cloudworks, cloudbusting if you like. For me, this incident highlights a lot of the issues relating to closed platforms, begs the question as to why an open system, or one sympathetic to open applications wasn’t used (like Canvas), and what’s more, demonstrates the merits of a personal learning environment (PLE).

I suppose the reason I dislike Cloudworks so much is down to its lack of agility in supporting conversations, which in turn makes it feel sterile and inhospitable (a bit of a current theme with me). It’s just so hard to get a sense of people in there. For me, this experience confirms that eLearning technologies can no longer be considered as tools rather they’re sites of practice, places where people go to learn (Goodfellow & Lee, 2007). In my mind, the idea of  sites of practice somehow fits with the camping related conversation that sprang up on Twitter during the convergence session on Tuesday (“storified” here) and also links to not just personal learning environments (PLEs) but to many Web 2.0 pedagogies, none more so than rhizomatic learning, which partly triggered the camping conversation in the first place.

Learning intents
Learning intents

Returning to the the learning objectives of the week, I feel that I achieved those designed by the course team but I didn’t articulate any of my own. However, as the week unfolded, I decided that my goal was simply to hang on, because there’s no two ways about it, it was a difficult process to work your way through. Hopefully, things will be more straight forward from now on as I’ve emerged from week 1 with not just a fascinating project but a strong partner too. I’m looking forward to finding a learning design solution to Jane Challinor’s call of “let’s get digital”.

Image source:


Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. R., (2007) Challenging e-learning in the university : a literacies perspective. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Hospitality: a promising philosophy for designing online courses & fostering critical digital literacies #moocmooc

In addition to POT Cert, I’ve enrolled on a few other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The first of which, entitled MOOC MOOC, takes a look at the phenomenon of MOOCs themselves…, naturally.

And it was here, within the customary introduction stage of the course a reference by Kate Bowles @KateMfD  to “hospitable pedagogy” immediately caught my eye. The reason being that only last week I read “Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis” where, in the chapter by Anna Smith and Glynda Hull, I came across the concept of hospitality as an aspect of Cosmopolitanism (p.63-66).

On first encounter, the notion of hospitality really resonated with me (see why), and it did so again when it emerged in a #moocmooc Twitter chat as an associated concept of Internationalism. Ironically though, I missed the chat itself because of what might be considered the inhospitable pedagogical design of the MOOC MOOC course (time-zone grief!!).

Get a snapshot in Storify.

Hospitality forms a crucial part of cosmopolitan philosophy as it foregrounds our relationships with guests, outsiders, foreigners and others, and as such is significant for online participants in a global and digital age. As Kate points out, every online host is sometime a guest and every guest can be a host somewhere too. Furthermore, there are increasing opportunities for people of diverse ages, nationalities and socio-economic positions to engage with new kinds of texts in the digital sphere and make comment on social issues, provide entertainment, produce news or engage in learning activities. Increasing reciprocity between authors and readers and the fact that texts are virally distributed through the web and across networks gives increased possibilities to encounter “distant, unknown, imagined others” (p.64).

In a media sense, hospitality translates to an obligation to listen, which in turn translates to thoughtful openness towards pluralist meanings and to the inhibition of  prior assumptions. Consequently, in order to anticipate and accommodate not just issues of global housekeeping but also diverse cultural interpretations we must adopt not only new creative learning designs but new dispositions too, cosmopolitan practice in fact.

That’s what I’ve learned from my MOOC MOOC experience. Plus, I’m coming to think that it’s not so much the massiveness of the MOOC that’s important just as long as it’s open and online, and that a community may be preferable to a course. That’s why I’ll continue to call by and say “hello” to the good folks of the Hybrid Pedagogy community from time to time.


Smith A. and Hull G. Critical literacies and social media: fostering ethical engagement with global youth. In: Avila, JA and Pandya JZ eds. (2012)  Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis, Peter Lang Publishing, New York