Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Participatory Emergent Inclusion? And #techquity

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So… Following on from y/day’s (well technically, this morning’s) post on the inevitability of exclusion… I am thinking this might be my area of inquiry in #clmooc – exploring practices in open education and in my own classroom that  can promote/hinder inclusivity. It’s not a new area of interest for me, since we already started thinking and talking about hospitality in #rhizo15 and building community in #hpj101 and more stuff… But Bonnie (on facebook) and others on Twitter asked what solutions there were for this inevitable exclusion (ok so the term is loaded, maybe i don’t need it but i can’t think of a better one at the moment.

One of the things Shyam Sharma and I talked about when dealing with “illusions of inclusion” is the idea of “participation as inclusion“. The idea is basically that the more you create space for diverse people to participate in decision-making, the more inclusive you are likely to be.

So if i wanted to suggest one thing that is really complex and tricky to apply well but is a key, I’d say

Diversify and allow for emergence

So for example, including me on #et4online steering committee as someone who has never been to the conf in-person, and someone all the way from Egypt, i think gave a different perspective. I do not represent all virtuals, but I can tell from survey feedback and blogposts about et4buddy and virtually connecting, and reactions to our (Rebecca’s and my) Prof Hacker post, that it has been a step-change in virtual conference participation for many people. It’s not the most inclusive you can get, but its something.

There is also a #techquity angle where diversifying helps a lot. In general, the more infrastructure and synchronicity and tech skill needed, the less inclusive. But having a diverse range of these is inclusive.

It seems obvious but i will spell it out. If all participation in a learning event involves JUST video, or JUST text or JUST synchronous interaction, it automatically excludes someone. But having a combo of these allows some people to be included in some things. There will be FOMO (fear of missing out) but it’s better than complete exclusion. Multimodality gives richness but excludes some people nevertheless. 

So #techquity is complicated if you think about details… Like for example ensuring everything works on mobile devices because some people only access the internet that way; i empathize because even though i have computers at work and home, my open online stuff is usually done on iPad or Android. So many limitations.

Offer Alternatives

Deeply theoretical conversations about good readings are valuable but can seem elitist to those not “there”. They’re perfectly fine in a Harvard classroom beause you can assume a higher common denominator, but not if you want to call yourself “open”. I am not saying don’t have them, I am saying if you do have them, it helps to have less intense options for people who are less inclined towards this. Or to accept that not everyone will participate and that’s legitimate too. So if you are a scholarly journal, obviously you’ll have a limit to how far you will go to accommodate.
Listening, responsiveness and emergence

I think nothing does it like emergence. If you listen well to what is happening, and respond, allowing yourself to diverge off plan, to allow space for  a learning experience to emerge as participants see fit… To accept there is no way on earth you can predict diversity and what people will want or need or prefer. You can,t know when you will have the student in your class who is blind, dyslexic, bipolar, struggling with a death in the family, etc. But even less extreme things like people who struggle to play video or make time or the coursge to be creative in public or feel overwhelmed by info overload or can’t stand facebook or whatever else. You can,t know. The more people you involve in decision-making, the more diverse they are, the more likely you are to be sensitive to all this. But beyond that, respond and allow for emergence.

It’s what i have seen many caring pedagogues do, even on a massive scale where it is SO HARD to hear and see everything. It’s definitely something the #clmooc team do. Because they genunely care.

But it’s not the end of the story…

One Comment

  1. This sounds like a good area of inquiry Maha.

    To me the whole thing can be resolved across all skill levels by the hospitality of welcoming connection. I’ve participated in MOOCs as a discussion monitor with the only directive being to reach out who post and receive no replies of go silent. The idea isn’t to “out lurkers” or force participation, but to offer the courtesy of being noticed.

    Your way of welcoming in your blogs is an example of INCLUSION Maha as is the whole personality of Inge De Waard who you know. http://ignatiawebs.blogspot.ca/

    Do you think we need to know exclusion to practice inclusion? When you feel like an “impostor” what IS that feeling?

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