This past week, one of my librarians and I presented at The Collective 2019. We worked on a presentation called “Trading Places: When Young Guns strive to be Real Geniuses” (it was 80s themed).
In it we had to start with the difference between Managing Up and Mentoring. For me since I’ve been researching the topic, it appears to be 2 sides of the same coin. They are both about relationships, but mentoring is the relationship you build with anyone who can help guide you through an organization/problem who supports you. Managing up however is about your relationship with your boss and their bosses.
I have developed both relationships and I use both to garner understanding and guidance for myself and others, but I’m always struck by how some people see managing up as negative and mentoring as fine. Where did this come from? Why is it considered a bad thing to build a trusting working relationship with your boss where you help them succeed? How do people not see managing up as a skill that (if you can master it) will always work in your favor? After all these years, I’m I just being naive?
This week we peeked into the world of open and flew into a worm hole. There is sooo much that can be read into one word, and so many uses of the concept that it gets difficult for me to see the multidimensionality of it. I have a tendency to stay on the surface because that’s what I understand.
On the surface, open education is teaching through a free means. Open educational resources are the items used in the teaching that are also free. I’m good here, this is easy to understand. No cost to teachers or students for textbooks, articles, or any materials the instructor wants to use.
But let’s talk about free. Free starts to get complicated because free should just be that, but it isn’t. Just like free from a library isn’t free if you can’t get to the library or you live outside the service area, free on the internet isn’t free if you can’t get onto the internet. You need a computer and access to get to the free. So what exactly is free? and how do we provide it to ALL to create real openness? Also, is free, free when we make students pay to be taught? And here is when I stop playing kal-toh and go back to tic-tac-toe.
So how does this relate to my own idea of open education? I’m not sure I have an idea about open education… yet. I do know that in my practice I want to save the student from having to purchase material to learn something when practical application and discussion can accomplish the same thing. But the materials we use are the library databases that are not free since they are licensed via the library budget. So even though they don’t have a textbook, their tuition pays for the subscriptions, so in all technicality that is not free or open.
Can I create assignments that are completely open? The easy answer is yes, by using open access articles to do information literacy objectives, I could use all free materials. But again… this is not truly free for the student who doesn’t have a computer or the internet at home, because they would not be able to access the material anyway. To further complicate this, they have already paid for my class. I’m not sharing my expertise free of charge, which again technically would not be completely open or free. I keep getting stuck in the free aspect of open. Because really, nothing in our society is free.
I keep thinking about Star Trek. The open society where you explore your passions for self-improvement, self-enrichment, and the betterment of all humanity. There is no money. Everyone (supposedly) has the same opportunities for learning and working. In this world open education is open and free. In our world, there are too many facets to “open” and “free” to truly be either.
So until we can live in the Star Trek world, we do the best we can and cut cost to the student where it is feasible. To me that means, finding ways to provide open educational resources to the faculty to use, finding ways to integrate what the library already owns into an easier medium for the faculty and students to use, and to explore whatever options present themselves to make the life of the student easier. As a librarian, I am a facilitator of access.
In the morning I played along with #DigitalGaurdiansEg Twitter Scavenger Hunt and that wasn’t so bad. People posted pictures and other people guessed what the pictures were. I didn’t get to the party until late, so for me the asynchronousity of it was an easy way for me to learn the ins and outs of replying and loving something. I also got to learn the “tabs” for keeping up with content.
Then came the afternoon live tweeting with the #OpenLearning18 group… Oh my… I’m so out of my depth. I felt unsure of what to do in the beginning and as we progressed I felt that I couldn’t keep up. Understand… there were only like 8 of us, but it felt like 80 to this novice. I muddled through and think I did well enough in the end. I didn’t try an original post, but I did lots of replying and (to my mind) supportive commentary.
After the chat was over, I went back to the pre-syllabus, and remembered seeing Sue Erickson’s post about surviving and thriving. I re-read it and bullet 4 struck like lighting. I don’t have to be on every post, comment, or blog. I get to choose, I’m not supposed to do everyting… Wow.
I know for some of you this will sound crazy, but for me this concept is profound. It was recently commented by my co-worker that I don’t say no to anything I’m asked to do. As a librarian and contentious employee, why would I say no to a request? If it’s in my power to help, I help. If it’s not, I find someone who can. I have always been this way and it works for me.
So for me this translates to… As a student why would I not do all the work? I have always been an overachiever who read the syllabus and some of the material before the first day of class. I tried to get assignments, readings, and homework done early. I was that student in class that had the orderly binder of all the materials annotated a week before it was discussed.
In this setting, I have to teach myself not to do it all. I need to remain flexible but focused so I don’t overwhelm myself. I have to choose my path which may be the through the woods and not on the road everyone else is on. And I have to learn that that’s okay.