Open learner literacies – activity 24

For the final activity this week we were first asked to read Helen Beetham’s Review and Scoping Study for a cross-JISC Learning and Digital Literacies Programme: Sept 2010

Secondly we had to draw up a set of open learner literacies.
“These should be based on what you have experienced and researched so far in this course. They should cover the types of skill you feel are important for an individual to learn successfully in an open learning context (whether that is using OER, in a MOOC or through informal, lifelong learning).”

The number of skills is up to you, although they should cover most of what you feel is important in being an effective open learner. Each literacy should be accompanied by some explanation and justification.
Blog your list of literacies and look at those suggested by others. You should reflect upon the following:

Are there literacies that are particularly related to the open element, or would your list apply to all learners?
Did you find literacies suggested by others that you would like to add?
If these are important literacies, how would you go about developing them for learners?

In the paper digital literacy is described as

those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society

I am using my own MOOC journey as a the basis of what, I think, are the digital literacies you need for the world of open learning.

I mean this in terms of openness to learning. Openness to trying new things. Openness to meeting new people. Openness to trying new ways of thinking. In fact openness to everything. Since doing MOOCs have tried lots of new applications and technologies. I don’t necessarily have to keep using them but I need to be aware of them and try them. Some of this is down to confidence but it also rests on how we may have learnt at school. Traditional schooling doesn’t always encourage openness, although this is changing. Much of what we did was based on individual attainment and what your results were and what you achieved. This is great but doesn’t always encourage openness and a willingness to share hard earned knowledge. I think traditionally there was an attitude of “I found it out and studied for it. If they want to find out they need to do themselves”.

Collaboration and community
I think at some stage in your learning journey you need to collaborate in some respect. You may totally embrace it or you may just do the bare minimum but at some point you will have to learn to work collaboratively. Learning within a community such as G+ and Facebook can also take some getting used to. Collaborating and contributing to communities is vital for your own learning but also to others. You are adding to resources already out there which makes it similar to a bartering community.

Research, skim reading and critical decision making
This is crucial as the amount of information can be overwhelming. At the start of my journey I was trying to read everything but there isn’t enough time and not everything is relevant or of sufficient quality. You need to find a way of running your eyes over something and make a decision, to keep reading or move on. In his blog Wayne Barry calls it critical filtering which I think is a perfect description. On a daily basis I come across stuff that isn’t relevant to what I am doing there and then, but I want to read later. Thanks to a fellow MOOCer I discovered Pearltrees which allows me to save information for when I have time.

Reciprocal learning
Having the confidence to offer your opinions and sharing your work. This was, and occasionally still is, my weak point. When I first had to create a blog I thought “who’s going to be remotely interested in what I have to say”? I have no formal qualifications on the subjects I was blogging about. The same problem with Twitter. What would I Tweet about and who would listen to little ole me”? My heart still does a little skip when someone comments on something I have blogged.

Most of the above should be applicable to both open and traditional types of learners but some literacies are stronger or work in slightly different ways since the emergence of social media. Take collaboration for example. Learners have always worked with their peers but now we are digital it has been taken to a completely different level. Since doing MOOCs I have collaborated with people from all over the world and at a more rapid pace. The scope is almost limitless.

For me the biggest change is that of reciprocal learning. Again this is something that also happens in traditional learning. Students speak to each other, recommend books, form study groups etc. However, technology has transformed this, particularly in open learning. With the rise in blogging, social media, Google Hangouts etc more of us are “publishing” and reading the posts of other students as well as “qualified” academics. In essence we are all educators as well being educated.

A lot of these digital skills are already being used by people when they are socialising using social media or sat in a circle of friends chatting. What a lot of people don’t realise is how easy it is to transfer this to learning. One of the big barriers is confidence but this can be overcome with experience and the support you get from online communities. What is really exciting is that the skills learned online can be transferred to the “real world” so digital literacies shouldn’t be seen as exclusive to this realm.