Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Agency & Holding Multiple Views at Once 

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Three things came together and collided in my brain… All of it helping me to think about my upcoming keynote at OEPS (unfortunately I cannot be in Scotland in person, but they’re generous enough to take me virtually and I appreciate it).

The things that happened are

  1. A presentation by a corporate entity wanting to sell us edtech solutions (fancy hardware/software/lifestyle combos) which had me internally cringing at the overselling of how tools can support learning. Not a surprise, but nevertheless a mildly annoying waste of an hour of my life.
  2. I re-listened to this vconnecting session from #digped with a really interesting second half where Lora Taub, Miranda Dean and Jenna Azar (mainly) discussed the application of Chris Gilliard’s approach of not asking students to use technologies where they would need to lose control of their data. Discussion ensues on student agency (Miranda is a fresh grad). Entire session is worth listening to, but this particular part starts around minute 24. I may use it in my class this semester to start a discussion! 
  3. An article was published on Hybrid Pedagogy today written by 3 students who focus on how higher ed should focus on employability (in ways critical pedagogy discourses many of us have often overlook) – and that article and some thoughts around it actually Intersect well with the ideas in the vconnecting session, my part of the #digped keynote and…
  4. …what I plan to talk about for my OEPS keynote regarding the “promise of open” (I was assigned this topic; I’m ok with it but plan to challenge it – it’s the theme of the conference)
  5. And to top it all off, I had a wonderful conversation with Melissa Malon for the Leading Lines podcast right in the middle of writing this podcast (specifically between bullet 4 and this one) on digital literacies, where I got to think/reflect aloud on where I stood on these things!
  6. I paused and in the meantime Kate Bowles wrote an awesome blog critiquing surveillance and data analytics in higher ed (it’s not that she’s saying something I don’t know as much as how eloquently she builds the post – so well said) and Sherri Spelic blogged this on the importance of educators reconciling themselves with uncertainty, even embracing it, even if uncomfortably at times (and here I think she makes explicit some thoughts and feelings many of us usually never share with anyone, let alone write in public).
  7. Omigosh and now Bonnie’s ALTC keynote and Mike Caulfield blogged and I really need to go read Amy Collier’s piece on digital sanctuary…

        So umm the point I think I was going to make was… This blogpost is taking forever to write, but my main point in writing is this:

        OEPS asked me to talk about the promise of open. I would like to problematize and contextualize both “promise” and “open”. And even as I do so, it’s still worthwhile to recognize how some individuals and groups can benefit from open in certain contexts and from certain angles. We should not dismiss the potential of that. But we should also not ignore those limitations. And at the same time we need to not assume who will or won’t benefit from each approach to open. Even as I believe that vulnerable people do not have agency in the same ways as more privileged people, at the same time, we still should not be making decisions on their behalf… But instead supporting their agency (not giving it to them).

        It’s not rocket science, but I like the way I’m building the argument in the keynote. That’s happening Monday September 11 at 11.10 UK time, followed by a Vconnecting session inshallah 

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