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INF537

INF537: Critical Reflection

Golden Snitch
An extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I feel the phrase “I open at the close” is incredibly pertinent to my two year journey through this Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) – I feel humbled by the scale of work still ahead of me but prepared for the challenge.

Three themes have defined my study during INF537 (my last unit of this degree):

The Three Digitals

  • Digital literacy
  • Digital scholarship
  • Digital citizenship

I have grown my understanding of each of these areas and how they interrelate. Dave Cormier’s blog on teaching digital literacy really opened up the path forward for me and solidified my thoughts on my own digital literacy teaching.

Digital scholarship and digital citizenship became intertwined in my thinking for assignment 2 (probably to the detriment of my focus on digital scholarship). I started to reflect on the social benefits and costs of being digitally connected. This degree has shown the wonderful benefits of being a connected learner but this easy interconnection has increased the workload on educators and other workers as there is an expectation of immediate response. As a digital citizen I will have to find the balance between time when I am online and when I am disconnected both for my own wellbeing and to set an example to others.

Open versus closed

People sitting in the park
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Thinking about open source versus closed source began with my reflection on Siemens’ argument that networks are confined by the systems in which they are situated. My initial thinking was that, if this confinement is the case, why would you choose an artificially confined system such as a proprietary system? I explored this idea in this post about open source versus closed sourcee commercial software. I determined that, like in the park pictured above, that setting clear bounds for a system is important to create clear expectations and responsibilities. This bounded system is what the digital commons relies upon, as without limits, a community can become so diffuse that it becomes impossible to manage.

Application of ideas

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

When I have been most frustrated in this unit and degree, it has been when I have read articles where scholars discuss technological change and adoption as if it were a foregone conclusion. I have to check myself when I get in to this mode as I have worked implementing ICT projects and therefore come at a problem from a practical perspective that is not always compatible with pushing the boundaries of possibility. Just as I have to learn to appreciate a scholarly approach, I believe it should be incumbent on scholars to expand their digital literacy to understand the challenges of organisational ICT, allowing them to envisage how to bridge the path between their vision and implementation, this will ensure research has the best chance of making a practical difference.

Conclusion

This degree has provided the framework for where I want to position myself in the world – as a connected learner who continues to expand their digital literacy to grow as a digital citizen and scholar. The INF537 research project on my community of practice has been a great way to conclude my studies as throughout this course, this community of practice has been my main outlet for experimenting with the concepts I have learned. The community has developed and grown along the way (you can view the change in the 7 related blog posts) but there is still a lot of opportunities for myself and my community to grow. As my degree draws to a close, I am open to the opportunities.

 

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INF537

INF537: I wanna live like common people

“The commons is a resource plus a defined community and the protocols, values and norms devised by the community to manage its resources.” (Bollier, 2011).

A digital commons can provide the framework for open education to flourish but is it possible to create and sustain it?

Enclosure of resources has been the nemesis of a commons based system for centuries and ideas such as the “tragedy of the commons” promote enclosure as the only antidote to what otherwise would result in self-interest exploiting the resources.

Advocates for the commons cite the success of Swiss farmers over 800 years and lament that government regulation and enclosure does not really have a better track record than the commons.

Now to me, Swiss farmers are not the best group to use as an example as it is probably hard to find a more privileged group of people but both sides of the argument seem reasonable.

In a digital context, is the commons different? Yes. The system is reversed with the resources often already existing behind pay walls or licencing. Even when content becomes available, someone has to pay for hosting the environment for the commons to thrive. So the digital commons is opt-in whereas the traditional commons is opt-out.

This is an exciting opportunity as it means that the digital commons is not as fragile, a person can opt out of the community and pursue their own goals and that will have less effect than it would have in the real-world commons.

The digital commons is still at risk from enclosure but the nature of digital is that the commons can always spring up anew in a different part of the web meaning that the opportunities for open education to thrive are massive.