By John Pederson

Transparent Thinking 2Many of our PLP cohorts have teams that are starting down the path of their culminating action research projects.  The TriState PLP cohort recently wrapped our third Elluminate session where a few teams gave early updates on their status.

Among the feedback that we provide is the importance of making your personal learning and your team’s progress transparent.  As I listen to this feedback recently I made a quick note  to expand on what we mean by transparent.  Those of us living online through various Web 2.0 tools have learned this through straight up trial and error experienced over years of practice.  Transparency online a bit like rock and roll.  We know it when we see it, but it’s difficult to explain and understand until you experienced it.

The note I made during our last session was “transparency does not equal assessment or accountability”.  Our purpose in pushing transparency is not related notions of accountability or assessment.  Unfortunately popular media use the words “transparency and accountability” like “peanut butter and jelly”.

What we have experienced, and what we hope  you experience over time, is that transparency in learning leads to interesting, unintended positive possibilities.  Furthermore, the tools that we have at our fingertips make transparency much easier.

Let me make this a bit more concrete.  Most Acceptable Use Policies are developed by school committees.  Meanwhile, most of the rest of our schools are creating similar Acceptable Use Policies. Most of the AUP’s look exactly like the next one.  The interesting ideas, unfortunately, are buried in the differences.  Most are sitting inside policy or guidelines manuals that never see the light of day unless they are being reviewed by committees.

In the case of an AUP, transparency involves not only opening these types of documents to others, but also explicitly sharing what you feel are the unique bits that you’d like others to provide comments and/or criticism on.  Notice we are a ways away from the notion of assessment or accountability.  My main motivation for being transparent in the development of an AUP is to solicit unique ideas from both people I know (my “network”) as well as folks I may not know (their “network”).  Circle back to what we’ve learned about “networked learning”.  There’s importance in who we know, but there’s also possibility lying in who they know.

As these PLP action research projects take shape, watch for the impact transparency plays in how things develop.  It’s a powerful piece when done well and a core element of what we hope folks take away from the PLP experience.

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John Pederson

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