The Medium is the Message and the Message is the Medium

I really enjoyed this week’s interview with Rob Blair and hearing about his course Democratic Erosion. It is a brilliant idea to use a networked course structure with this particular course topic!

Hearing about this course reminded me of Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “the medium is the message.” Open learning is all about developing, interacting and learning within a network. McLuhan believed that the medium is more important than the message, however, I would say you can no longer separate the message from the medium. In today’s world, messages come in all different digital formats such as websites, blogs, Twitter, email and digitally born books and journals. These things are so intertwined with our lives that we are constantly both consuming and creating. Dr. Blair’s Democratic Erosion course is both medium and message, intertwined and indivisible. Technology has literally become part of how we live and interact

From a librarian’s point of view Blair and his colleagues have created a course that exemplifies the ACRL Framework idea of Information Creation as a Process. I also was excited to hear Dr. Blair as he discussed the posts as living documents that can be edited and updated as students developed their points of view on complicated topics. This reflects another ACRL Framework idea of Research as Inquiry. We want students to be curious and to challenge ideas, including their own, and become lifelong learners who participate in the democratic process. Scholarship is a conversation (yes, another Framework idea!) and this course exemplifies this idea, as well as celebrates many of the ideas of open learning.

Open Access

The topic this week was open access and open educational resources. The first thing that struck me was Peter Suber’s response during his interview when he said that open access cannot solve all our problems because it is not universal access. The other problems that still remain are: filtering and censorship, language limitations, disability limitations and the fact that only 50% of human beings have internet access. Knowing about all these issues only makes open access options more logical to me. We all should start small by controlling the things that we can control. My small library is making a big effort to help inform faculty about open access and open educational resources. If they see the valuable options that exist out there, or that are needed, perhaps they will be more likely to use them and contribute their work to the public as open access publications.

The second thing that struck me was from the Suber reading on page 19 when he quotes the Budapest Open Access Initiative stating that technology, through the internet, has allowed for the public good of open access publishing. One of the most positive things about the internet is that information can get to people at their point of need. The story of Gardner Campbell meeting Claudia Ceraso because he asked a question into the Twittersphere reminds me of this as well. The internet has allowed us not only to phone a friend but to ask the world audience a question and they can respond instantly! Open learning and open access reflect this new way of thinking and working. It invites others to please come in, contribute and help build something better, together. Therefore, in today’s technology environment, it only makes sense to do what we can to encourage open access in order to enable wide spread collaboration which I believe will produce better research and better work products.


Here I am again, a year later, and jumping back into OpenLearning19! When I started last year, I was anxious because I did not feel comfortable being out in the open, doing things like blogging and tweeting, but I was ready to try something new and outside of “my box.” To be honest, I cannot say that my experience in OpenLearning18 made me totally comfortable with working in the open, but I really enjoyed my experience. It made me think differently about learning, networks for learning and access to learning.

I am hoping that by participating again, I will continue my journey of baby steps into the Open. One thing is for sure–I am certain that I will meet amazing new colleagues that will make me think and learn. Looking forward to meeting you all in the Open!

Open Options


This week I learned how little I actually know about Open Access.  However, with all its pros and cons, I firmly believe that Open Access is the way of the future for research.

Last week we talked about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  One of the frames is Scholarship as Conversation.  This frame outlines the idea that scholars recognize that their work will be discussed, analyzed and debated among peers who may in turn, build upon or disprove their work.  In order for this to happen, scholars need access to the work of other scholars.

Traditional methods of publication have limited authors in their ability to retain rights and limited users in their ability to access due to paywalls.  Open Access allows authors to choose how they share their work with the scholarly community.  Although Open Access is not universal access, it does promote the ideal of universal access and we should champion efforts that support this ideal.  Andy Nobes’ article pointed out other problems that limit access in Africa.  I believe that periphery publications would gain more attention through an Open Access platform, especially with the help of the DOAJ.  Catch up is inevitable in places where internet access itself is still limited and leaders do not value digital progress as Nobes mentions throughout his article.  Building infrastructure may be a goal that continues with  the next generation and will most likely be slow in some places.  Reaching out and including periphery scholarship is something we intentionally must do in order to promote accessibility and progress.

This leads me to ask myself, “What can I do?” As a librarian, I can help spread the word and educate others about Open Access and Creative Commons licensing. I can encourage professors to publish in and teach with Open Access journals and I can intentionally select OER books and teaching tools for the classes I teach. This movement can continue to have momentum only with the support from within the scholarly community.  My experience so far in OpenLearning#18 is a great way to keep the idea of Scholarship as Conversation moving forward.

The Internet and Higher Education

This week in #openlearning18 we are pondering the question: What is the most important thing that learners should know about the internet and the World Wide Web.  I thing the most important thing to keep in mind is that they are simply tools.   However, as with any tool, there can be many ways to use them, both fun and wonderful as well as scary and dangerous.  With that said, I am (cautiously) optimistic about the future of the internet and the Web knowing that people will invent new ways to use these tools that are unimaginable today.

What leads me to be cautious is how quickly I have seen the internet and the web change our lives.  We need to slow down a little and think about how we, both individually and collectively, want to use these tools.  We have created this amazing sort of “4th place” that blends personal, educational and professional worlds and yet sometimes, it just does not quite feel like reality–as in curated posts on social media and avatars in gaming. Will we loose true conversation to 120 characters and personal interaction to liking and following? Will there be any separation between who we are as individuals and our work world?  Or will it all blur in this new 4th place? I do not have the answers, nor am I saying this is all essentially bad.  As a private person, I sometimes find this new digital shift personally invasive, other times I find it incredibly useful and educational.

As for the higher education arena, students in college today are digital natives and they have never known a world without the internet or the web. The digital world is interwoven into their existence and higher education needs to meet them in their own environment.  However, higher education can play a role in making students slow down and think about how they use these tools by setting the example and guiding them in positive ways. As a librarian in higher education, one example would be to show students how to break down Google search results to recognize advertisements and bias.  As a teaching librarian, I always try to incorporate some sort of hands-on, digital activity since this is a familiar environment to students.  I look forward to see how this new generation chooses to incorporate these tools in the new digital age.


Open Education and Learning


One thing the readings this week made clear about Open Education was that we can have all the openness imaginable, but without knowing how to navigate and use these sources and tools, there really is no education.  If you give someone a car, it does not help them get to where they want to go unless we teach them how to drive.

I am viewing Open Education through the lens of a librarian.  I believe my professional colleagues find it their responsibility to connect and educate people about information.  Librarians have always advocated for access to information as well as promoted the skills to evaluate and use information.  Therefore, as discussed this week and stated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, libraries are essential to democracy.

However, what struck me this week was the idea of authority.  Jeffrey Pomerantz discusses how in this age of information overload, we must all take on an authority role when it comes to the evaluation of information.  The new Association of College and Academic Libraries Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education discusses how “authority is constructed and contextual” and an expert user of information is one that has become an expert in the critical evaluation of sources.  Learning will not occur through open education without this level of authority as a critical consumer of information.  I believe this is something librarians instinctively understand and why we need to make sure we continue to be involved in the Open Education movement.

What I Want to Learn: #OpenLearning18



”Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”

– Ben Franklin

I am excited to be involved with #OpenLearning18 because it offers the experience of sharing ideas with likeminded individuals who are interested in improving learning. What I want to know is how others are incorporating both the concept of open learning, as well as the tools of open learning, into their work.  I want to know how others think open learning will (or could) impact education at all levels.

What I hope to contribute to #OpenLearning18 is a willingness to share, participate and ask questions (sorry, I am a novice!)  I hope to encourage, and to be encouraged, to find new ways of applying the concept of open learning to improve my teaching and promote sharing among colleagues.  I am looking forward to this experience with all of you!


My First Blog Post Ever


Welcome to A Life of Learning and my first ever blog post! I am starting this blog because I am preparing to participate in #OpenLearing18 and thus I am trying to be more…open. Being a private person, there is a big part of me that would prefer to simply stay off the grid, and up until recently, I have tried. (Just ask my friends who have finally stopped hounding me to use Facebook!) However, my second career of being a research and user experience librarian has brought me to more fully understand that learning occurs everywhere–through experiences, people and across all sorts of media formats. I am excited to enter into this new experience with #OpenLearing18 in order to learn about new ideas, new ways of learning, as well as new ways to become more open myself by participating with open technologies. And the journey begins…