Project Update: 10/15/14

Amy Brunner, Anny Chou, and myself are the lucky gals working with Julia Freeland from the Christensen Institute on a research project about web-based mentorship services. Many T509-ers may remember Julia from Week 6 lecture and her provocative lecture on disruptive technology.

Just a quick project update: Anny, Amy, and I have split up a market mapping task to explore current web-based mentorship opportunities. In addition to studying current offerings and categorizing them, in the coming weeks we’ll be discussing gaps in the market.

We’re enjoying helping Julia begin this research process as an entrance into a multi-year project she’ll be working on.

“Open Learning”: Taboo or Not?

In my (somewhat brief) time working in online learning, I’ve regularly head the term “open” batted around, yet I never really understood what to think of it. First, there’s no real agreed-upon definition of “open” and second, not all usages of “open” are created equal. To some circles (namely a for-profit educational publishing company), “open” was considered taboo, a bad word, not-to-be-used-under-any-circumstances. In others (not-for-profit organizations), “open” was an essential part of vocabulary. It’s not that there were fundamental differences between how publicly accessible the for-profit content or the not-for-profit content was- in this way both were completely “open”- it’s more that it meant different things to each. In the publishing world, “open” is taboo because copyright owners often run from “open” platforms while in the not-for-profit world open is often a buzz word used  to attract funders.

It’s just another reminder that the world of edtech operates under many complexities, making context an ever-important consideration when evaluating research, opinions, and the like.

Back to School, Back to (Grad) School (in Education)…


The face in the above image of the iconic Billy Madison character pretty well represents how I’ve felt upon my return to graduate school after four years of playing the desk-job field. I want to be very clear: I am extremely, undeniably, incredibly luck to be at an amazing institution full of some of the most fascinating minds I have ever come across. My classes are (mostly) very interesting and I’m truly enjoying myself. The kicker is this: I knew I was going back to school to learn about education, technology, and learning, but I didn’t realize I was going to unlearn everything I knew about learning. Instructivism is a criminal ideology, behaviorism: what does anyone really think about this?, constructivism -> constructionism -> connectivism -> I’m just about at -ism capacity. But how does any of this apply to the “real world”, or at least MY “real world”? Here’s the thing about HGSE: at some point you realize that you’re really just sorting through non-sense and sense to build your own use of it in the “real world”. Only at that point do you realize the aggravating power of what this place is doing to your mind.

Right now, I’ll be honest: I’m still a little uncertain, but I’m okay with that.