Ubuntu is a "key theme in African philosophy as it places an imperative on the importance of group or communal existence as opposed to the West’s emphasis on individualism and individual human rights. Thus, as an aspect of African traditional philosophy, Hunhu / Ubuntu prides in the idea that the benefits and burdens of the community must be shared in such a way that no one is prejudiced." (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
Carnegie Hall. (2014, August 14). UBUNTU — Concept of “Ubuntu.” (video). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/w1mm3wDf0cI
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (n.d.). Hunhu/Ubuntu. Retrieved February 15, 2020, from https://www.iep.utm.edu/hunhu/
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Doctoral Seminar 1
Steps taken to become a reader, writer and thinker in academia.
Doctoral Seminar One (DS1) was a place and time for becoming. While the focus of the course may have been on becoming an academic by examining research, theories and issues in qualitative research methodologies, it was a space of four weeks where I became a critical synthesizer, research analyzer, and reflective academic writer. The course started with writing personal stories (Richardson, 2001) and developing an epistemic genealogy resulting in 'My Snake Story'. The course ended with examining 'big tent' measures for qualitative research (Tracy, 2010). This course was an immersion, and re-immersion in some cases, into educational theory, issues in educational research, examining academic writing, engaging in discourse, and developing my scholarship practices. Being away from home during this course provided me with dedicated time to read prodigiously, write thoughtfully, and reflect deeply.
"... constructing an academic self occurs in and through writing. When researchers make writing choices they conform, adapt, reframe or resist dominant academic textual genres" (Mewburn & Thomson, 2018, p. 20).
DS1 revealed paradox and binaries in academia that continue to provoke my thinking. As a result of this course, I became more comfortable as an academic while living and learning in paradox - self vs other, conforming vs resisting, iteration vs completion. During DS1 I became familiar with, but couldn't yet claim ownership of, terms like ontology, epistemology, axiology, ideology, methodology, academic genealogy, heuristics, and intersectionality, as seen in this blog post [Understanding Terminology]. Examining terminology and critically constructing word choices became part of my ethos and praxis as academic reader and writer, while the caution about zombification (Sword, 2012) in academia still resounds.
During DS1 I took to blogging as a "technology of the self, a generative form of habituated 'self-writing' (Mewburn & Tomson, 2018, p. 22) as a form of my hupomnemata (Weisgerber & Butler, 2016), as evidenced in my calendar of blogs. This notion of a solitary, ego-centric, self construction became diametrically polar to my belief of embodiment of self in/within community, as exemplified by the conception of ubuntu (Eze, 2010).
It is this self constitution in relationship, notwithstanding the impact of geographic distance and technological mediations, that echoes into my research inquiry. I didn't know it at the time, but have come to realize it since, that it was here in DS1 that I began to frame my ontological and epistemological foundations for my research. Some of these positionalities may have been within me all along, but it was here that I began to understand the pivotal impact of social constructivist theory (Dewey, 1916; Freire, 1998, ), critical theory (Ladson Billings, 1998), and critical ethnography (Fine, 1994). DS1 provided an opportunity to discern my research interests. I discovered the philosophies of digital technology (Ihde, 1979), rediscovered Piaget's theory of constructivism, Papert's theory of constructionism (Papert & Harel, 1991) and the theory of connectivism (Siemens, 2012). I continued to ponder the definitions for 'open educational practices' (Cronin & MacLaren, 2018) in order to describe my research inquiry.
“Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance.” (Eze, 2010, p. 190-191)
While the academic and scholarly tasks within DS1 - journal writing, workshopping a paper, qualitative research methodology multimodal presentation, and research paper - honed my reading, writing, thinking, and discourse as an academic and scholar, this was only the beginning of further steps to be taken into the labyrinth. It was here in DS1 that I explored the worthy topic, rich data, rigor, sincerity, credibility, resonance, significant contribution, ethics, and meaningful coherence (Tracy, 2010) that I could apply to my future research.
OEPr: Open Practices
This is a subsection of the literature review and also a standalone page describing open educational practices.
Despite more than a decade of developing conceptualizations of OEPr, as shaped by social, cultural, geographic, and economic factors, there is still no clear definition of what it means to be an open educator (Bozkurt et al., 2019; Cronin & MacLaren, 2018). Broadly speaking, OEPr encompasses (a) open sharing of learning and instructional design, (b) collaborative development of open educational content and resources, (c) open and accessible co-creation and delivery of learning activities, and (d) the application of shared peer and collaborative assessment and evaluation practices (Bozkurt et al., 2019; Cronin & MacLaren, 2018; Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016; Paskevicius, 2017; Wiley & Hilton, 2018). Openness in education results in increased transparency, improved collaboration, and the democratization of educational endeavours (Kimmons, 2016). This definition of OEPr is shaped by a philosophy about teaching that “emphasizes giving learners choices about medium or media, place of study, pace of study, support mechanisms, and entry and exit points, which are provided mostly with opportunities enabled by educational technologies” (Bozkurt, et al., 2019, p. 80).
OEPr can be more narrowly defined by identifying skills and abilities educators apply when opening their teaching and learning environments by removing barriers to learning (Cronin, 2017; Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016). Paskevicius (2017) defined OEPr as “practices where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice; including the design of learning outcomes, the selection of teaching resources, and the planning of activities and assessment” (p. 127). For my research, I will explore the OEPr of teacher educators as they engage and participate, create and network, select learning objects, and/or apply Creative Commons licensing (Paskevicius, 2017; Watt, 2019).
Nascimbeni & Burgos (2016) attempted to identify and measure the qualities of an open educator using their Open Educators Factory (OEF) which examined elements of teaching practice such as openly designing learning, developing and using open content, teaching openly, and applying assessment that shifts beyond the notion of a disposable assignment (Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016; Paskevicius, 2017; Wiley & Hilton, 2018).
Tur et al., (2020) examined this notion of becoming an open educator and enacting an OEPr as reflected in an open identity examined through the lens of threshold concepts, best described as "capabilities, skills, experiences or practices and of which might also indicate ways of thinking, practicing and being which act to signal membership of, or changing status within, a community of practice" (p. 5). Gee's (2017) notion of "being" and "becoming" highlights this internal state, in this case being an open educator, and the transition an educator undergoes in becoming, through rights of passage involving doing (experiences), sense making (knowledge) and identities (being) that are transformative, troublesome, and liminal (Tur et al., 2020).
An Open Educator chooses to use open approaches, when possible and appropriate, with the aim to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning. He/she works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement his/her work, understanding that collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others. (Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016, p. 4)
In an attempt to provide a further distinction between OEPr as action and event driven, to one that is internal, Cronin’s (2016) clarification of openness as “individual, complex and contextual” (para 4) is a helpful starting point. Cronin’s (2016) conception of openness, brings to the forefront the individual to whom the “open” practice matters as an educator, situated within the contextualized, complex spaces where personal identity, on multiple levels, is continually negotiated, and where personal and connected decisions are made, both within and from outside educational contexts (Cronin, 2016). This is where the conceptualization of OEPr is reframed as individual, online identity building, hospitable, negotiated and reflective.
A holistic conception of teaching practice as open is proposed here. Cronin’s (2016) notion of openness can be juxtaposed with the writing of Parker J. Palmer (2017), who described three entanglements in teaching. First is the content or subject matter that must be managed. Second is the complexity brought to the teaching environment as embodied in each student. Palmer (2017) suggested the greatest challenge comes from within each educator since “we teach who we are” (p. 2). Palmer (2017) stated:
When thinking about OEPr, it is into “open” education spaces that I project my inner self, as I become a mirror and a window (Style, 1988) and where my “open" teaching is displayed in all the layers, negotiations, tasks, actions, and care encompassed within the art of teaching. In open educational contexts, OEPr is a reflection of everything we are and do as a teacher. The digital technologies and resources we select, use and integrate into the courses we teach will mirror our personality, persona and identity, both physical and digital. When I come face to face, either physically or virtually, with my students, I have command over one thing:
Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. … The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject (p. 3).
“my identity, my selfhood, my sense of this “I” who teaches—without which I have no sense of the “Thou” who learns … good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (Palmer, 2017, p. 4).
This is as true in open, digital, online, and virtual spaces as it is in a physical classroom context. My OEPr is the sum total of my internal ethos, my acts of hospitality, my ways of being “open”, as demonstrated in how I negotiate into open educational spaces, with students, using OER when appropriate, presenting open opportunities, exploring open assessments, while integrating open technologies. For this conception, I have attempted to construct OEPr within a more holistic framework, re-imagined within both individual and community contexts. Not only does this bring into this conception of OEPr the notion of ubuntu, but also the community of inquiry model envisioned by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2001).
One area within this holistic notion of open that is problematic and under researched is the connection between critical digital literacies and OEPr (Cronin, 2017; Nascimbeni, 2018; Spante et al., 2018; Watt, 2019). It is in this confluence of competing notions about identity and practice, within the field of teacher education, and the OEPr enacted by teacher educators, that I propose to research further.
Definition of terms and concepts
Here are the individual terms and concepts used throughout this comprehensive portfolio, inserted as notes and linked within pages and content.
- Alternative Dissertation format - Alt Diss
- cognitive load
- digital ethnography
- FoE - Faculty of Education
- liminal / liminality
- open education (OE)
- open educational pedagogy (OEP)
- open educational practices (OEPr)
- open educational resources (OER)
- unicursal / multicursal