Copyright

Rethinking Open Online Learning: A Conversation with Jim Groom

Little did we know that a micro-revolution was brewing on the second morning of the 2011 Open Education conference in Park City, Utah. Keynote speaker Jim Groom emerged from a tent, chanting 'We are the 29%!' to kick off #OccupyOpenEd11. After the dust settled, Study.com had a chance to ask Dr. Groom how others could join the cause to take back the power of open education and put it in the hands of the learners.

View popular schools

By Polly Peterson

Imagine a course that continues long after the semester ends; then envision that course reaching a global audience of learners who join in the conversation and share with others. As Instructional Technology Specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington, Jim Groom has touched on a magic formula. His digital storytelling course, DS106, has escaped the confines of the brick-and-mortar school and the traditional semester to become an experimental online radio station. The 'Reverend' (as Groom is fondly known) told us what he's learned by departing from a focus on resources and re-emphasizing the community of learners.

Study.com: What does 'open education' mean for you?

Jim Groom: I've gone to the Open Education Conference three times, and every time it's been a very different experience. The idea of open education is very protean; it's constantly changing. I'm interested in the idea of open education as a community for actors, as a practice that people do together that hopefully grows organically through real ties made both online and off. Open education for me has been a porous group of people who come in and out and share openly who they are and what they're doing.

To me that's an open educational experience, not an open educational resource (OER). It doesn't mean that I'm against OER; I hope that people are creating resources for others. But when that resource becomes divorced from its context, it has no meaning for most of the other people who stumble upon it. I would hope that an OER would be embedded with an open educational experience. That would give people meaning, a sense of what they're doing, even if it's just the ten people in a class, rather than thinking 'I've got four million views on a particular resource, so it's useful.' I don't think that analytic is proven. I think our move toward learning analytics doesn't get at what I think is the real analytic, love and connection. It sounds hippie, and I'm not hippie; in fact, I hate the whole aesthetic of hippies.

Study.com: There's been a great deal of talk about creating structure and repositories, but learning doesn't happen just because it's online.

JG: That's right. We've recorded lectures of some of the brightest minds in their fields, but that's not solving our open education problems. People aren't tapping into them for some reason, and I have to think that's because we're not rethinking the medium. The medium is premised upon connection. The success of Facebook and Twitter and other social media resources are based on immediate connection.

Study.com: Well, not everyone can get into MIT, but anyone can watch their OCW videos. How can open education give students more agency?

JG: It doesn't mean they have anything even remotely close to the experience of being an MIT student, and the fact that we want to try to suggest they do just by putting a lecture online I think is insulting. What we want to do is think about what the new medium of the Web provides us as educators, what it provides us as a community and how we can think about learning in different ways.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

If you're going to be a network professor, or a network teacher, or a network student, you have to put in the time and energy of building a network and being mindful. You're not going to go out one day and say, 'I want a garden,' leave seeds and come back in six months to find a beautiful garden. It has to be cultivated, it has to be mindfully paid attention to. When people ask you a question you've got to react to them, you've got to give them something back; that's a kind of give-and-take currency. It's bartering ideas and emotions.

When you do work, the first thing you want is feedback. So we built in a feedback loop that people would read and respond to on a regular basis, and when you know people are reading and responding to your work you're going to do more and better work. That's something we have to figure out how to scale.

Study.com: All the feedback helps you learn and grow and change.

JG: You get hyped by feedback. Feedback gives you energy. Some people get more than others, and there's a reason: because their stuff is remembered and talked about. Then maybe they feel special, and what's better than feeling special? So many things are telling us we're not. If you feel special even for a moment I think it changes your relationship to whatever you're doing, whether it's school, sports or just parenting; it's good.

Study.com: It's not just a professor grading. The whole world is listening.

JG: That's right. Digital media and the Web is paramount to every other form of media, and if students aren't familiar with it and they don't understand how it works or how to create for it then what I'm teaching is a form of literacy, and it's literacy for a platform and a medium that very few people in higher ed, and I'd argue K-12, are really preparing a student for. And there are millions of people, whether they're in school or not, who could really benefit from understanding how this medium works and how to communicate within it. That means visually, design-wise, with video, with audio, with all these different mechanisms; they're all essential to narrating your process online. And the thing that gets forgotten in open ed is to narrate the process of what students are doing and what they're learning.

That sharing of process, of curating how you learn, is immensely important and beneficial to other people out there who want to learn. And that could come from anybody, and that's the thing we forget when we put certain people on pedestals. Everyone has something to share. I think that's what the Web was about - a human community working together to enrich and augment the learning experience.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology
    • MBA
    • Master of Public Health
    • MBA - Human Resources
    • BS in Liberal Studies
    • BS in Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Investment Career Focus Area
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Nutrition Science
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • AAS in Business Administration - Business
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Administration - Food & Hotel Management
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • Medical Office Administration Certificate
    • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
    • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
    • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Education - Character Education
    • Doctor of Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Doctor of Education - Higher Education
    • Ph.D. in Communication
    • Ph.D. in Education - Character Education
    • Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Master of Arts in Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Journalism
    • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
    • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program - Autism Certificate
    • M.Ed. in K-12 Special Education - Autism Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
    • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Hospitality and Casino Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - International Business Concentration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
    • Master of Education in Elementary Education
    • Master of Education in Special Education
    • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    • RN to BSN
    • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership Curriculum & Instruction
    • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership K-12 Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?