“Which is greater: study or action?” The question was posed by Arlene Goldbard, the honored guest speaker at the Open Master’s first Convocation Feast, held in San Francisco on September 14th, 2014.
In 2013, after the Open Master's group in the DC had been launched for a little bit less than six month, a second group decided to form in the Netherlands, catalyzed by Marien Baerveldt, Saar Francken, Sydney Brouwer, Tijmen Rümke, and Tim Woensdregt. They organized a work-trade with a coworking space in Utrecht, The Netherlands to have a free room one day a week to use as their primary study space as a group in exchange for offering some learning events to the coworking community.
The first interaction most members of the first Open Master's group had in DC was a 4-hour "studio" for helping each other workshop our learning goals together. Each person got to be the center of the group's attention, one-at-a-time, for 30 minutes, while we worked refining our learning plans and focus.
One of the first events that will bring part of the Open Master's community together this month will be the Open Master's Studios, which are being held Sunday, September 30th (1-4pm) and October 14th (1-5pm) in Washington, DC. We're also busy organizing a series of other in-person events, calls, and online events over the next month. Take a look at what we've got planned for the Studios. We'd love to hear what you think about this important first touch-point for our community.
Q: whether you are participating or not, if you could change one thing about the agenda, what would you suggest?
We are very excited about the 30 folks who have signed up for the Open Master's Class of '13. There are 22 of us in Washington, DC and 8 more spread out in other locations- from Oregon to Berlin. Each of our courses of study will be individually designed, so we are also busy pulling those together. We'll be ready to start sharing some of those soon.
We're excited by the diversity of themes on the table. We have a nice mix of some fairly traditional topics- like film production and early childhood education- thrown in alongside some pretty nontraditional combinations, like interactive media, data science, and transnational organized crime.
It has also been great to see that, even amid our diversity, there are also a few common themes emerging, too. For example, one group has started to form around topics related to innovation- e.g. what makes a community innovative, what makes people cooperate, what makes an incubator work well, etc.
We are organizing our first few events together as a community this month. As we get to know each other a little better, we look forward to sharing more information about each of us as individuals!
So far there are 13 folks in Washington DC- and two more in other locations- signed up to join the class of 2013 of the Open Master's! This is a great size and is exactly where we would love to be tracking at this point (big enough to have some great diversity of interests, but small enough to get to know each other well).
If you're still considering joining, you still have until the end of this week to sign up (through Saturday September 15th).
Keep in mind that you do not have to have everything you want to study completely figured out to join. That is what the Open Master's Studios on Sunday, September 30th and Sunday, October 14th will be all about.
More information on the studios: If you have already signed up or are just curious about what these days will hold, head over to the google doc where we're drafting the plans for these studios and feel free to comment directly on the doc.
In addition to that, some of us have already started informally conducting some one-on-one peer reviews of our plans with each other, a few members of the community are starting to propose dates for our first few community meals, and we will be doing a lot more of each of these things in the coming month to help us get to know each other.
For those of you in other locations, we'll be making an announcement soon and following up with some of you directly about organizing virtual participation or local groups of participants in other locations. Stay tuned!
As always, pleas feel free to comment here or email us with any questions!
The Open Master's Program is about to kick-off! If you are interested in joining this year's class, be sure to sign up by Saturday, September 15th. Get Involved
The first round of the Open Master's program will commence with a pair of 'Open Master's Studio' events on Sunday Sept 30th and Oct 14th. Attendance of at least one of these two Open Master's Studios is required for participants of this year's program.
Please note that you do not need to have your study plan all worked out before signing up. This will be an exploratory process, and we are organizing ample opportunities for us to explore potential courses of study together -- including a Knowledge Commons DC workshop about how to design your own curriculum, this Sunday (optional, open to the public).
Based on your feedback from the Open House in May, we've drafted an Open Master's Handbook that outlines the process, program, and expectations for this openly peer-reviewed degree. This is a living document that will continue to evolve with the benefit of your feedback.
This week, we've published the first shared plans of some Open Master's participants. Check out these initial iterations of the plans under development by Mike Durante and Alan Webb -- and let them know what you think!
Looking forward to getting this year's program started!
If you are thinking about joining this year's class of the Open Master's, especially if you live in Washington DC, be sure to check out our class this Sunday, September 2nd, from 2-5pm. The class is designed as an introduction to designing a plan for self-study at the Master's level, which will be one of your first steps this year if you join this year's group in DC. Location
National Portrait Gallery atrium 8th and F Streets NW Washington, DC Neighborhood: Chinatown
What will we do?
We will share some of the common tools of the trade we have discovered for creating a DIY higher education program, and invite you to play around with them with us. Bring your inner nerd and we'll work together to transform your hidden learning passion into a learning plan you could do go to work on right away (if you want). To facilitate this process, we will share some of our own learning plans as examples- and those of others who have gone before us. We'll also lend a hand to each other finding support and helpful content before we leave.
Signup in advance on Knowledge Common's DC's site.
A week ago, a small group of entrepreneurial learners came together in DC to change the way society looks at study. Together, we began planning the Open Masters: a community-based, customizable masters program where students create their own curriculum and complete it with the support of peers and mentors. Forty-nine people filled out an online survey and about half of them attended the Open House event at Canvas on May 31st to explore ideas related to open higher education. All of them were coming for different reasons; some could not afford graduate school, while others could not find a graduate program that was flexible enough to meet their learning goals. Still others had never considered graduate school before, but were attracted to gaining a new group of peers with whom they could learn anything- from design thinking, to business skills, to cooking. A common thread throughout the room, though, was a core set of values: passion, action, purposefulness, and a desire for impact and community.
This Summer, a group of us will be crafting the framework and handbook for the Open Masters, to help give the program clear shape and direction, while ensuring it remains flexible enough to support all passions, personal development adventures, and skills. We are also planning a common core experience for participants to start the Open Masters journey together, including a retreat this Fall. We will be incorporating into each of these foundations of the Open Masters the feedback we heard at the open house and in the surveys about what people would like to see, including:
- A strong sense of community, cultivated through opportunities like shared meals and places to study.
- Clear structure and accountability, from common criteria and mechanisms like regular check-ins.
- Ways to supplement our knowledge and learning paths, through the guidance of expert mentors, apprenticeships, project portfolios, and other practical learning experiences.
- Incorporating existing tools for open learning into the program, such as: Citizen Circles, KCDC classes, skillshares, Peer 2 Peer University courses.
If you are interested in designing your own Open Masters, we hope that you will stay in touch and, whenever you’re ready, get involved. We’ll post new developments on this blog, and we’ll keep you in the loop if you sign up for updates (on the right). If you have any questions or want to get involved in the development of this program in any way, we hope you will comment on blog posts, send us your thoughts by email, or (if you’re in DC) join ongoing informal gatherings we’ll be hosting this summer (we’ll let you know if you sign up for updates).
If you’ve ever tried to learn something on your own or with others, we’d also love to hear about your story at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below. What was successful about your experience? What could you have done differently?