The Connected Courses experience been insightful. As someone who is still a student and hasn’t had the opportunity to independently lead my own course, I have been left with new ideas and a new perspective of how the nature of instruction is evolving. I have tools that will prove invaluable as my teaching responsibilities increase over the coming years.
I have found the online and mixed-media composition of Connected Courses to facilitate inclusion. While internet-based courses have the potential to feel isolating, the constant discussion and diverse participant contributions keep things going. It is quite amazing that we live in a time in which we have the technology to participate in academic discussions at any time and from any place in the world.
One of the topics of the most recent Connected Courses sessions has been the Indie Web: a movement in which we simultaneously remove our sole trust in commercial internet media sites and centralize our own data. The concept of using the Indie Web to create, compile and publicly present our academic contributions has a lot of merit. However, I wonder if we need to be cautious in whether or not we put all of our eggs into one basket, even if it is one we have more control over. Specifically, I am slightly concerned about how social media aggregation might continue to erode the boundaries of our personal and professional lives. I am a proponent of openness but can think of several examples in which it may not be desirable to allow unregulated crossover of these realms.
Perhaps this represents a potential roadblock for the sustained application of social media in the classroom. The Indie Web movement is in part supposed to prevent students from being “locked out” of their data and allow the conversation to continue outside of the classroom. Surely, giving students “ownership” can be empowering and encourage deeper engagement. However, I question how much participation will actually continue after the semester ends, when students turn to new pressures and obligations. And how long will students want their names permanently attached to their contributions? Sometimes we might be less likely to contribute when we know our causal comments will exist longer than we will. We are vulnerable when we are learning. That is a good thing, but I feel that we need to consider the implications of this vulnerability when balancing new open course formats in order to make sure our practices are truly inclusive. I admire the focus of driving technological advances with current practice instead of the other way around, and perhaps selective anonymity will be something that is considered as the Indie Web develops.
This will not be my last blog post, but I must say how interesting my time with Connected Courses has been. I may not have participated in all of the writing prompts, but I have taken away a great deal, all while experimenting with unfamiliar topics and new methods. Definitely recommended, and I found the small breakout sessions with #VTCCourses to be especially valuable, despite my limited participation.