What Sheila's seen this week – human OERs, still useful life in twitter yet and being nice

I’v had one of those weeks where I feel I haven’t been looking at twitter, reading blog posts interacting with my online networks very much this week. F2F communication and getting “stuff” done has taken over this week. However the serendipitous joy of twitter still held true for me when top of my stream yesterday afternoon was a link from Gardner Campbell

to this marvelous post A human OER. It really resonated with how I feel about openness, sharing practice and some of the thorny issues of being connected including something I do worry about – open cliques. You know the places where all the ed-tech hipsters hang out, which despite being open are actually quite scary for some of us to join. I really recommend reading the article, but here are a couple of key quotes for me:

I want to be part of the larger whole, not just the subset. . .

“We talk about tolerance, equality, and goodwill, power dynamics exist in the shadow of groups perhaps too often. These get played out covertly, unspoken and our options when we do not like it are limited. Stay and comply or leave. Sometimes it is possible to shape the conversation, yet in order to do this one needs to meet the majority where it is and speak ‘their’ language before being heard. The type of interaction remains unchanged as the players change. I see people arrange themselves in tribes of like minded people and travel together. Humans do this physically as well as virtually. We choose our clubs.

This sorting process, by definition, includes some people and excludes others.

I have been very lucky so far in my online interactions, I have a fantastically supportive, tolerant, funny, intelligent network. I have only received 2 abusive tweets. Yet I am aware of the horrific abuse many women face when they speak out on social networks. I do feel that leaving networks just gives more power to the trolls but I totally understand why some people do.

There is a backlash about twitter not being like it used to be. It has evolved, and yes the adverts and changing views of my stream are annoying, but I still get value from it. I think it still offers a way of communicating and sharing that I would sadly miss if it wasn’t there. I haven’t found anything that replaces it – and I have tried.

I try to be nice to people online and offline, I’ve never been ashamed of being nice. Martin Weller has blogged about Nice as an energy – again worth a read. Martin points out that angry is easy, being nice actually takes more effort. Ultimately I think is worth it – particularly if you want to get things done or actually get peoples long-term support, trust and understanding. And isn’t that at the core of any kind of educational practice? Also when you are nice, if you are ever angry people tend to listen. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry – luckily most of the time I’m not. Though apparently according to those who know me well I am quite stubborn . . . but I am a Taurean . . .

The Golden Horns of Taurus
(image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PSM_V32_D530_The_golden_horns_of_taurus.jpg)

2 thoughts on “What Sheila's seen this week – human OERs, still useful life in twitter yet and being nice”

  1. Hi, Sheila. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the reflections in my post in such a lovely way. I like your term ‘open cliques’. Reminds me of something I experienced in a recent MOOC which I called the ‘mean girls syndrome’. Either you ‘dressed and sounded’ like the Mean Girls (film reference- I hope you are familiar with) or you were excluded.

    I too must say I have had a great deal of generosity and kindness since I started exploring what it might mean to be an open educator. It has given a renewed faith in human nature and what we can do if we put ‘being nice’ at the top of the list and our egos at the bottom.

    The flip side of the self-orgnising nature of our online networks is that we will do what humans do when faced with uncertainty: cling to our hashtag. Some of us can look in the mirror and understand the excluding as well and including dynamic this creates. Others of us are too scared to look in the mirror. This is not helped by an overarching rule I notice online: If you don’t like it, just move on.

    I also know from my life as an 8-precept contemplative how tough it is to train the mind towards generosity and kindness. It is easy to say be nice – it takes great discipline to learn to expand the number of people we can be nice to.

    If I add to this Argyris’ notion of theory-in-use and espoused theory, then I know that how I think (and tell myself) I behave is not how I actually behave. I see online life as reinforcing our espoused theories and not offering clear feedback on our theories in use. This puts us all in a tough spot when creating online educational experiences and the duty of care that this carries for us as educators.

    Hmmm….you made me think. I had not thought about this before reading your post. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment – it’s making me thing even more now too. I certainly do get the Mean Girls reference. The duty of care we have as educators often gets forgotten or perhaps subsumed by freedom that open gives us – an underlying and often missed tension between being connected and becoming connected?

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