Last year, I took the initiative to start an interest group at KI in Cytometry: The idea was to provide a forum for interaction between KI scientist and the possibility to learn more about the development in this field. Over 100 participants including students and researchers joined the initiative. The hardest part has been to communicate and to identify tools to canalize and reach out with information. A part from putting together a group mail list, we also used our favorite Learning Management System (LMS) (Watson, 2014) Ping Pong to build the group. Our choice has been motivated by the will to also integrate the network into existing doctoral courses we were running at KI and thereby to somehow “modernize” existing teaching activities in the cytometry field (Bates, 2015). However, we quickly started to face some challenges of limited flexibility when several actors outside KI and around Sweden also shown interest to join the group. Though we did not think about that at the start, this is of course the way every community should grow! Therefore, I needed to think about more accessible and flexible tools for networking and community building.
In topic 2, we explored the benefits and challenges of openness in learning, we explored several open educational resources (OERs) and participation in Massive Open Online Course (MOOCS), “a gold mine” of online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. A complete list of Massive Open Online Courses (free online courses) offered by the top universities and colleges in a wide range of subjects is available at this link: https://www.mooc-list.com/. A wonderful resource! This is where I anticipate to spend a significant fraction of my next summer break …
Searching through the MOOCS catalog, using the key word “flow cytometry”, I found very limited resources and almost exclusively from commercial sources. There is space for independent voices from the academia, so maybe this reflection is also some kind of start for a new cytometry MOOCS project in the very near future?
Back to my little flow community project. Openness is the key ingredient for the success in open open education (Dos Santos, 2016) and this remains valid for the long term maintenance of our network. We want participants to be open with regards to their scientific data. It is quite common to share success stories and glories. Even more interesting, is to be open with failures, so other researchers will not spend unnecessary time redoing the same mistakes. When it comes to application of advances technologies, there is actually even higher chance to fail than to succeed, so why not an OPEN LEARNING of MISTAKES? What about a NOT TO REDO database because its already tested and proven not to work? Think the number of hours, or sometime months of lab work that could potentially be gained for gaining new knowledge rather than re-discovery?
With no no doubt, I’m a believer of the simplest concept where sharing and openness win even when sometimes it doesn’t feel like victory (Weller, 2014).
- Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.
- Dos Santos, A., Punie, Y., Munoz, J. (2016). Opening up education. A support framework for higher education institutions. European Commission JRC Science for Policy Report.
Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning.
- Watson, K. (2014) Learning management system or the open web? Cofa Videos, Learning to teach online UNSW. Available with a related pdf here.