Embracing Open Learning

Throughout my career, teaching kids and adults in diverse districts and courses, I have lived in between higher ed and K-12.  In higher ed there is a mantra to publish or perish, and throughout grad school, I had adopted this philosophy. I thought I had to publish in traditional journals to accomplish anything. Following in the foot steps of many, I had been planning on writing manuscripts and trying to perfect my ideas so I could share them some day, somewhere. I had one article from my dissertation that was accepted in a journal and was finally published 6 months ago. Aside from the time it took to write, it took 3 years after it was accepted to get it published and when it was finally published, I couldn’t even access it because I was no longer a subscriber to the journal.

This was a less than motivating experience and hadn’t inspired me to want to publish more, let alone write at all.  I had many half baked ideas that just sat on my computer or on multiple sticky notes. Despite good intentions to write something, I never got around to it. With closed access and limited interactions with practitioners, it made me wonder–is this the best way to impact teaching and learning in schools? I hadn’t realized that by keeping my thinking, learning, and challenges private, I was stunting my own growth and impact on schools I was serving.  When I began to see that I was a perpetuating the same learning practices I was working to change in schools, I knew I needed to model and share my own learning process. I am forever grateful to George Couros for helping me see this and pushing me to share what I was learning. Thanks to his less than gentle nudge, a year ago I wrote my first blog post.

A year later, I have written fairly consistently and published 45 blog posts. More importantly, as I have been reflecting, writing, and sharing openly I have grown and learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Here are some of my highlights from a year of blogging:

  • I have gained clarity in my own thinking and ideas.
  • Sharing my ideas with an authentic audience has made me want to write and read more.
  • It is empowering to create content that makes an impact on others and adds value to the field of education.
  • Not everyone loves everything I write and that’s okay.
  • I have gained confidence in my ideas and myself.
  • Now that I have experienced the power of blogging, I encourage everyone else to blog too.
  • I have become connected with amazing people with similar ideas and passions via social media.
  • I feel sense of accomplishment when I finalize and share a post.
  • I am inspired to keep learning and seek the answers to new questions that continue to surface.
  • I have created an open digital portfolio that showcases and catalogs my learning and ideas and I reference it often.

In this image that depicts the Networked Teacher by Alec Couros, the arrows go both ways, and I believe that is the where the power is in the learning process.  Although I had been “connected” in many different ways with other educators, I was mostly taking in information and ideas and taking it back to integrate into my own context. I have always liked to integrate lots of different ideas and try new and better ways to improve teaching and learning. By making it public, I have begun to contribute to the broader community and it has taken my learning to a much different level. In essence, by creating my blog I moved my learning process from a private endeavor to an open, visible process to learn with many on the journey.

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It’s been an incredible year with lots of growth and opportunity.   I look forward to continuing to grow and learn with you all!

4 thoughts on “Embracing Open Learning

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights Katie. About 3 years ago, I initially began writing because I “had to” to demonstrate and record “learning” in support of a technology grant. But since that time, my blog has become an integral part of my professional learning. It functions as both a digital artifact, a private reflection of my growth, as well as a public forum to share and connect. I do believe that as educators we have that responsibility- to take risks, to find our edge and push beyond it, to share our challenges and our successes. We can’t ask our students to do something that we’re not willing to do ourselves. Thanks again.

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