I now see my creativity as an ecological process involving myself, in relationships with and interacting with my physical and virtual environment, with the people, ideas, tools, technologies and other resources in it and with what emerges from it. Everything seems to me to be relational. If I don't form a relationship with something then nothing happens with that thing.
It's a continuous search for the affordances through which I can utilize my creativity, my knowledge and beliefs which emerges through the circumstances of my life: #creativeHE being one potential outlet that was important during the period of time it was active.
This ecological model seems to fit well my observations of my involvement in #creativeHE. I effectively created an ecology for social learning. It differs from an ecology which is teacher led in the sense that the main resource for learning is distributed through the participants and the relationships we all have with the enterprise and with each other. It's through these relationships that people are motivated to share their ideas and understandings, that generates the knowledge from new insights emerge. Nevertheless, as the leader of this social learning project I had a major influence on overall shape of the process through my design for the process that spanned 7 days and provided basic resources and questions for inquiry around which conversations could form.
Social learning is a meaning making process – someone shares something that they find meaningful and the conversation emerge from interaction of people with the resource and with each as they share their own interpretations and what is meaningful to them. The resources I chose (mainly videos and animations) were resources that had meaning to me and the worry is that others will not find them so meaningful. But I reasoned that people who are willing to participate in #creativeHE will always find something meaningful and work from there, and if its not meaningful they will propose something that is – which is what happened.
The #creativeHE platform becomes the primary means of conducting the conversation and also the means of curating it in this social learning ecology.
Perhaps the biggest area of learning for me is the discovery, yet again, of just how important relationships are in the ecological process that results in learning, development and achievement.
It has taken me three iterations of #creativeHE to know what I now know about it. You have to persist to be able to form productive relationships - persistence with people, with ideas with technologies - and in the end the reward is something different and better than we had before eg. understanding, competence and relationships with potential for the future.
During the week #creativeHE was running #OER2016 was also running and I followed some of the proceedings via twitter and the OER website. I came across the talk by Suzan Koseoglu & Maha Bali's on The Self as an Open Educational Resource in which they claim We OURSELVES can be open educational resources. Anyone can be an open educational resource.
While they were pitching their ideas in the OER forum (rather than an open learning context) the principles they elaborated are relevant to the open learning (self-education) context of #creativeHE. In their view you become an open learning resource when:
- [You] Make your processes open (e.g. as you think through your teaching or thesis research, defend thesis publicly)
- [Are] willing to change, have your ideas and your values challenged and shifted
- [Are] open to reevaluating your worldview when dealing with people very different from yourself
And you share something of yourself making yourself vulnerable for example by:
- Posting incomplete thoughts or raw processes - open self to critique and possibly worse esp in academia
- Exposing own weaknesses (e.g. illness)
But we can only do these things if we trust that the process and the people in it will not take advantage of our vulnerability and we will not be ridiculed or criticised in a cruel way. In return we hope for consideration and empathy, and perhaps points or connection that build on what we have offered. These sorts of feedback show us that the risks we have taken have been worthwhile.
#creativeHE with its focus on personal creativity encouraged participants to take risks and reveal important things about themselves: to participate you had to be prepared to share yourself, to become an open learning resource,
The circles activity, for example, invited people to engage in an activity and share the results of their own creativity. I think it takes courage to show other people your creations. Facilitators played an important role in demonstrating how this process of open sharing works within a mutually supportive community of shared interest and other participants joined in, but many other members of the community did not.
That this openness works for some participants is clear from the posts that were made but these only represent about 10% of the registered community and the question in my mind after this experience is something like:
Are many people who sign up to an open social learning community, like #creativeHE, afraid to share publically their perspectives, beliefs and creations because of the vulnerability demands such learning ecologies require?