I had the pleasure of attending the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) Virtual Symposium, a five-day event covering several different areas of the field of digital learning. Although the symposium happened in real-time during the month of April, it kept with the MALAT programs theme of Open and is still available for asynchronous viewing. The event is broken into three separate tracks and although each one is of interest to me, I chose to attend the Stories from the Field track. This aligns with my current role in the Durham College Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment and future career aspirations that I have.
A Continuum of Openness in a MA Degree
The session on A Continuum of Openness in a MA Degree by Dr. Elizabeth Childs allowed the viewer to understand the process of redesigning the MALAT program. Childs (2018) provided background, on how the program was developed for Individuals who had a passion for teaching, learning and technology and how the program evolved over the many years that it has run. As part of the program redesign, several discussions occurred with current students, alumni, faculty, and industry experts to help determine what the program should and could be. The three themes that became evident in the research were:
- Networked learning
- Digital mindset
Childs (2018) explained the process of truly trying to embrace openness in the MALAT program and the misconceptions and problems that occurred along the way. A definition of Openness was required to explain that the entire program was not being provided for free and strategies needed to be put in place to ensure terms and services were not being broken with the publishers Royal Roads University has agreements with. Additionally, open educational resources are heavily used throughout this program, allowing students to easily access all course material for consuming purposes and publicly posting blogs using the WordPress Content Management System platform. All this, while keeping formal assignments inside of the Moodle Learning Management System.
Murphy (2013) describes these open education practices as practices that promote the creation, use and overall management of open educational resources through policies. They also help empower learners as co-producers on their academic journey. Although I have only been in the MALAT program for one month, this definition clearly describes my experience in the program to date.
Childs, E. (April 16, 2018) A Continuum of Openness in a MA Degree. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018.
Angela Murphy (2013) Open educational practices in higher education: institutional adoption and challenges, Distance Education, 34:2, 201-217, DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2013.793641