Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Open Learning, Yeeeee...

funny photo of kid being thrown into a pool. kid seems to enjoy

toes up flickr photo by popofatticus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The #OpenLearning17 MOOC people have said GO! and I’m carefully dipping my toe into the hopefully not too chlorinated water instead of jumping in (full disclosure: whenever I try, I land on my stomach. Wait: didn’t one of you all have a funny gif on all of this?). I am curious about all the new ideas and all that gimmicky stuff to learn (I hope there’ll be some of this), but I have no clue yet where I’m going with all of this. My teaching (U.S. Government, courts, and such) tends to be intramural, and my main role is now in faculty development, with a focus on supporting faculty career planning. I have the sense that there is something in all of this that will be very useful, maybe even inspiring, and at the very least fun will be had. Connection and community is the basis of my work, so yay!

I don’t want to stretch the pool analogy too far, but so far I have only some cold (I’m German, after all) shower thoughts to offer: We’re for Open, but it’s all in English, right? K, Virginia is in the US, where lots of people speak that fair-sounding language, but. So, if we want to be really open, we should think how to include languages (or go within languages?) other than English. This may be particularly relevant these days, with the US threatening to become more isolationist and England going Brexit. (Not to speak of right-wing attempts to defund and de-institutionalized public education in the US.) Will English-language academia continue to play the global role it has been playing? Are we ready for this? Canada and Australia to the rescue? What should be our response? Translation tech? Educational translator-ambassadors? Learning Arabic? Chinese?

(True story: A few years ago I gave a paper at a conference in Germany, in my native language. It was a complete umh-and-ah fest. I'm not ready to go non-English myself, even if it's in a language that's fairly close to English.)

(Oh, hey, Camille used the toe-dip metaphor as well in her wonderful post.)


Steve Greenlaw said...

Wow. Your comment about language (English vs German) really struck me. But this is not a problem unique to open learning, right? How has it been addressed in other contexts?

Andreas Broscheid said...

Short answer: I don't know. Long answer: Hm, yes. TOEFL, for example, but that presupposes closed ed in the sense that we can control who enters. Translated books. Google translate. I suspect we need to learn more languages and to collaborate across languages.