Introducing the Workshop to the Participants / Open.Michigan / CC BY
Last Friday I ran a workshop at the University of Michigan where a group of eight worked through the P2PU School of Open challenge "Get CC Savvy." A year ago or even a few months ago, I would have never imagined taking part in such an exciting opportunity.

So what got me here? Well, to put it simply, a class with Kristin Fontichiaro at the School of Information and her choice to pair me with mentor, Emily Puckett Rodgers at Open.Michigan. The class and mentorship were structured to give me the chance to explore my personal interest in open education and informal learning opportunities with a focus on information literacy and teaching opportunities.

After a few conversations and brainstorming sessions, Emily and I aimed to try and get the educational potential of the School of Open offline and into a group setting. It was an experiment to see how well an online and physical learning environment could work together.

Were the School of Open challenges able to support this kind of learning?

What benefits would there be to learning something like Creative Commons in this sort of setting?

How do we record the evidence and learning that is taking place?

We couldn't answer these questions, or any of the other many questions we had. But we were ready to learn something from this event.

The session drew in participants of all different backgrounds from experts of Creative Commons at Open.Michigan to students interested in librarianship, information policy, and even a student Wikipedian at the University of Michigan.

This informal setting allowed for flexibility and creativity on how this session would evolve. I wanted participants to pick how they wanted to learn as long as they followed two measures of engagement: 1. That they created an account with P2PU if they didn’t have one and 2. To comment and engage with the actual challenge and its tasks in the discussion areas.

I asked for participants to abide by these measures to encourage them to preserve evidence of the types of learning and questions that were inspired by the session and to encourage them to (hopefully) explore P2PU and School of Open more at a later date.
Get CC Savvy Workshop Students Watching a Challenge Video and Discussing / Victoria Lungu / CC BY
As seen above, and as evidenced in the ”Get CC Savvy” challenge discussion fields, the eight of us worked together to explore the content, ask questions, post comments, and discuss personal perspectives and experiences relating to Creative Commons. We were even lucky enough to have an audio clip captured (It can be found and listened to in the discussion section of Task 3 in Get CC Savvy) and a fairly immediate response from Jane Park, Creative Commons project manager and P2PU founding volunteer, to one of the participants questions. The multimedia evidence and outside engagement really enhanced the experience and created a rich environment for learning. 

While the hour and a half session allowed for this in depth exploration of Creative Commons, it also taught us about how group dynamic and other factors impact the takeaways and experience. 

1. This experience was unique in that it actually had experts in the room, including Piet Kleymeer who helped build the challenge. While this won’t always be the case for others who choose to develop workshops like this, it definitely allowed for a more dynamic conversation and avenues of exploration than if there had not been someone to field questions. Even though we were fortunate in this aspect, it makes me question how deeply might one explore content like Creative Commons in an online module without that facilitation.

2. Sometimes things built for individual work and short answer don’t always help facilitate a group effort to work through the material. Some of the exercise answers and singular tasks required more front-end effort to structure it into conversations to draw out the participatory aspect of the workshop. While P2PU and School of Open are not necessarily built to support live group workshops as a main source of learning, is there a better way to facilitate this method of learning the challenge content on P2PU?

3. Capturing the learning that happens in a group can be hard (especially when working through an online module). Early on, we were so involved in the conversation that we had hardly realized no one had captured the ideas we had discussed. Sometimes a discussion board might capture central ideas or themes but it cannot capture the dialogue and discussion that leads to ideas or encourage further exploration that happens in groups. Some of the best learning occurs in collaborative spaces and its something that should be preserved and shared when possible.

With all this in mind, would I do it again? Definitely. It is inspiring to participate in a conversation with minds that strive to understand, explore, and challenge ideas, new or mastered. The opportunity to see the group engagement play out before my eyes shows me the meaningfulness of the material and the ability of collaborative thought o spark interest beyond the framework of a challenge-- where informal learning really starts to take shape. 
 


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