GO-GN: A full Circle Story

Posted on behalf of Johanna Funk:

GO-GN: A full Circle Story

I went to OER 14 at the beginning of my foray into Open and fell in love with the Community of practice there. I had only just started exploring OER and OEP and was fascinated with the levels of ownership we can cede to learners. Upon joining this group in Newcastle that rainy week I knew I had ‘found my people.’

Martin Weller played the Lego Movie song ‘everything is awesome’ in his keynote and said ‘enough cheerleading, it’s time for evidence.’

I returned to Australia inspired and enrolled in PhD studies. This year, with GO-GN’s support, I was able to join fellow PhD students to share the emergent findings from my study prior to finalising my thesis. At this stage in my studies this was a precious gift. Being in the same room with students in the same field for ANY PhD student is especially supportive. But to join a number of Open researchers has shown me how far we’ve come only in the last 5 years. Everyone in our seminar was engaging in the human elements of OER; how identity, community, institution-based relationships and engagement in OER was shaped and had impact on transforming the systems we work in and amongst.

Given the current landscape we’re all in globally, though, we haven’t entirely abandoned the need for the cheerleading ‘everything is awesome’ anthem for our work …

But I can see in the GO- GN and at OER19 conference; a shift has happened from Resources to Open.

The relationships the GO-GNers formed in those two days were based on the shared ethos we all love about Open but also the relief of not being ‘the only one doing this’ and ‘finally being with our people.’ As PhD students championing learner agency in today’s world, I think we all needed to hold onto the LEGO anthem a bit; for the well-being of our community of practice.

That being said, the criticality with which we are engaging inspired a more reflexive and considered approach  to our work in what has been dubbed the ‘rowdiest seminar yet….’   YEAH BABY!

A little enthusiasm isn’t a bad thing J.  After enduring some of the initial fallout from institutional restructures and research funding cuts, my brief time with the OER family had me smiling and skipping around more than I had in months. It’s given me the shot of confidence I needed to come back and finalise my thesis (fingers crossed this next version will be the final one so I’d better wrap up this reflection business quickly ;-)…

Or as Virginia Rhodes says

‘Finish that shit!’

We can remember the optimism felt in co-creating in roads to learning in a world that keeps needing it.

Perhaps that is the enthusiasm we all still needed too….

OER19 Recentering Open was timely in so many ways; the swampy quagmire and quicksands we are all dodging these days evoked a movement-infused vernacular; everything at this conference seemed in motion. People were using verbs a lot more than what I would expect in a conference with ‘resources’ in the title’s acronym.

  • Embody
  • Participate
  • Engage
  • Occupy
  • Enact
  • Embed
  • Recenter

The ‘how and why’ of open was given more focus that the resources and tools, as well as the human’s interface with open. That Kate Bowles called upon us to step out of our entanglements into the light, embed systemic care into our contexts, challenge the stripping of our learning environments of any humanity. Sara Thomas’s ‘hacking away at the undergrowth that hides you’ is another challenge that lifted me out of my swampy fears and helped me channel my inner banshee to fight and defend the beautiful things we are building.

The hope I was feeling rang true with Catherine and Laura’s final address with Rebecca Solnit’s challenge for using hope as a spur to grow some terrifying wings we can soar through the icy wind with.

That in order to Recenter open, we might need to leverage our awesomeness enthusiasm into a gritty and fierce discipline,

One that would move us from dwelling in the fringes of our contexts and into the centre to claim some light for the growth we’ve done in these edgeways.

Kuhn , McAvinia, and Crump encouraged us to think about how we occupy these open places and check our assumptions to honour our contexts and the people that make them up; How we’re situated in relation to our places.

Helen’s ideas about humans actually becoming the resources themselves, keeping humanisation of open practices over and over in the face of techno-ice ages and night walkers creeping up on us.

The diverse student as the feature ; the one that owns the knowledge (Taskeen Adam and Judith Pete); that sharing the learning space continues to evolve and change shape in how it looks to perform such a shift.

We can model our practices after these agilities.

What I’ve returned with has been a blend of these different times of learning in Galway ;

  • growing,
  • evolving, 
  • relational,
  • situated and
  • human practices;
  • whether they are dwelling at the fringes or centring themselves ;

This positional language wasn’t lost on me as we sauntered across the streets through the Claddagh ( Old Irish for stony seashore or ‘edge’). Spending a few extra days in a small room on Claddagh way, hearing the wind and rain on the windows and seabirds gaggle; Learning more about the ancient places and practices where language, song, invasions and rebellions flowed and created a special set of knowledge I could only catch an enamoured glimmer of;

Where the wild Atlantic water and wind whipped up a blush  in my cheeks , a chuckle from  somewhere deep and a sense of gumption and grit to take home ;

Not a shiny new bundle of flashiness to unleash on our war-weary colleagues, but a deeper glint in the eyes; grounded in the strength of the culture that welcomed us;

The discipline of care and optimism we’re in the privileged position to share in our own settings

We can fit our plans to our contexts; use what we need to hunker down on the edge or in the middle – and keep moving.

Some of use will need to be more cautions than others as we enact this situated and nuanced praxis and remain responsive and mobile, proactive and considered in our next steps 

as we keep lifting off out of the dark .

Thank you  GO-GN and OER19

Johanna Funk
Coordinator, Lecturer and PhD Candidate
College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society