A network learning moment for an #RRUMALAT learner

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Catching up on some blog reading yesterday and came across a post from Audrey Watters where she referenced the work of one of the students in the RRU MALAT program.

More formally, one of George Veletsianos’ students used my work in an “epic rap battle,” and frankly it is so amazing that I just might retire.

Ok, well, I had to check it out. George and I teach in the same program at RRU so this student will be my student next year. But more importantly, what had this student done to get a mention on Audrey’s blog?

Turns out, the epic rap battle from Alastair Linds is pretty epic. Go check it out.

There is a lot to love about this moment, not the least of which is the latitude and space George has given his learners to be able to offer up something as creative as an epic rap battle as a course activity.

But for me, the most significant aspect of this moment is that a connection was made between a learner and an expert in the field. It was a moment made possible because of open & networked learning, something that the RRU MALAT program has baked into it’s core design.

This is not a disposable assignment. This is not an activity that was designed to be seen by just the instructor or within the confines of a small cohort of classmates. Many course activities in MALAT is designed to be open by default. By giving students their own open space & asking them to openly blog about their work, we set the conditions for moments like these to occur for students like Alistair – a moment where they can connect with their contemporaries in the field, and begin establishing their own personal learning network.

Without this being posted in the open, George would never have been able to amplify his students work to his large network, Audrey may never have had the opportunity to hear about it, and she likely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to blog about it herself, further amplifying Alistair’s work and connecting him to even more people within the field.

Tony Bates
The conductor Tony Bates BCcampus CC-BY-NC

It reminded me of a similar moment I had in my Masters program. I had been assigned Tony Bates & Gary Poole book Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education. I wrote a blog post about it, attempting to crowdsource from my network other seminal books to add to my bookshelf on the topic of teaching with technology. Who was among the first people to respond to my blog post and leave a comment? Tony Bates.

Now, here I am, a novice student just dipping his toes into a new subject area, and who is the first person to leave me a comment on my blog? The very person who authored the textbook I was assigned to read. I could not believe that one of the foremost experts in the field I was entering took the time to leave a very useful comment on my blog post.

Knock me over with a feather.

It was a pivotal moment for me where I saw the connective value of open, networked learning. The ability to connect with, and build, a personal learning network consisting of experts in the field. It’s a powerful motivator for a student, and I hope that when Alistair read the comment left by Audrey on his post, he felt the same exhilarating rush that I got when I read Tony’s comment on mine.

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