Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reflections on #unboundeq and Mozilla Open Leaders

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It suddenly struck me today that one of the things that’s making me restless lately is not so much the million things I’m doing… But that I’m just not blogging as often. I’m still reflecting a lot, privately, orally and in writing, but not on my blog… And that makes me float a bit… So many good ideas come and go and they’re not anchored somewhere.

Three key areas of my life I could blog about but haven’t been doing enough of are: my f2f class, Equity Unbound (an open, connected version of my class I am co-facilitating with Mia Zamora and Catherine Cronin) and the Mozilla Open Leaders experience, where Equity Unbound is getting awesome mentoring from Mozilla community and in particular our own mentor Samantha Ahern.

I am blogging today, week 8 of the Mozilla Open Leaders experience… Because I realized I’ve been learning a lot and writing NONE of it down… And also because today’s session was particularly helpful for me, but both of my partners were unable to attend. So I thought I should reflect on it publicly.

The two key areas we were asked to think about today in our breakout groups were

  1. Balance: Value exchanges are for you, too. What are you giving to your community, organization, or project? What is it giving back? If there are gaps, how might you close them?
  2. Sustainability: “You cannot sustain a movement without sustaining yourself”. We were asked what brought us to open leadership work, what would sustain us for 5 more years? What would sustain us for the rest of our careers

Balance aka Reciprocity

For me, balance translated to reciprocity. I thought of how Equity Unbound was about sharing our curriculum openly and inviting others in to participate or even contribute parts to it. And that our approach has reaped fruits. People we know and many we don’t are participating or amplifying the work or cross-hashtagging…. Or responding to my students’ tweets and blogs. And some are contributing resources and activities but we can do better to invite this in. This stuff is possible because of years of building relationships online. You don’t just create an open online thing and people jump in for the ride. It takes years of building trust, listening, conversing, collaborating…. Reciprocity…. To reach this.

Mathura in our breakout group mentioned managing expectations and this is so important. One of the risks of being “open” is being expected to voluntarily do anything and everything. But we are human with limited time and energy and have priorities. So it is important to set those right and maybe we have not. Equity Unbound is not a MOOC where we promise to facilitate everything. We are doing our thing, Teaching our courses, making curriculum open for others to use and adapt and contribute to… But in the end, our priority is our own students. I was reflecting during our MozFest and OWLTEH presentations (which I joined virtually) that I had anticipated Equity Unbound would provide a better learning experience for my students as they interact with others online… But in reality this has not been as I hoped… Instead, though, it provided me with a supportive community of educators and others to think and discuss and yes, feel, while I go through the semester, and it has made me better for my students. My relationship with Mia and Catherine has been amazing and we share values and other experiences like motherhood that enable us to support each other in more ways than we had initially anticipated, I think. But the support and sense of community comes from many others involved in Equity Unbound in peripheral and more involved ways. Our last studio visit was like a therapy session!

Sustainability Paradox

The sustainability of open is such a difficult thing. The thing is, you need some kind of “appreciation” (Mathura’s word) or recognition (mine) or reward that need not be financial… But for open to keep going and us to keep working on it… Eventually a model for Sustainable work is needed. Once commercial and monetary interests come in, it becomes a problem of conflict of values. The alternative I have seen is becoming part of an educational institution, but those come with constraints and their own values and processes.

I am still thinking about all this for Equity Unbound and for Virtually Connecting…

I need to stop now but will blog again soon!

One Comment

  1. The open nature of anything is difficult to sustain. I agree. And I also agree: once money enters, the thing — whatever it is — is likely on a downward slope (except for those making money).
    Kevin

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