Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Fixing the shirt but spoiling the trousers #OER17 Open Call for Your Stories!

| 13 Comments

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So I am finally getting around to solidifying (inasmuch as someone like me can solidify something this far ahead of its date) my OER17 keynote. There are slides, people. 90 of them. Some will have to go, because I also intend for my keynote to be a bit interactive and imagining time for that will be difficult to gauge.

So here is one way to give myself a bit more flexibility and options.

There is a part of my keynote where I plan to refer to an Egyptian expression, which, literally translated, means “when you tried to fix the shirt you spoiled the trousers” (must remember to say trousers not pants in the UK or they’ll think I mean underwear). It conjures up an image of comedy of errors or such, where trying to fix a problem creates new problems.

I think of “open” as having many such problems that arise out of its solutions, and I already have some examples in mind, but would love for the community to offer me more examples of this. I also want to make sure I don’t just bring in privileged white male voices (the people most likely to raise a hand in a crowded room, I think) or to privilege the people in the room – hence asking in advance. The easiest way for me to track these responses would be for you to either

  • Comment here
  • Tweet to #oer17 tagging me
  • Blog and send me a link here or on Twitter

If you’re present at #OER17 I might ask if I can call on you to tell your story quickly to the audience instead of me telling it when you’re sitting right there 🙂

It could be a story of something you have observed in others, or it could be a story of something that happened to you. It could be a personal story, or a story about a larger policy/issue. I have both kinds in mind.

13 Comments

  1. Moving from one proprietary software “solution” to another… and then another… and another.

    For example, moving from the tegrity lecture capture software to Panopto. Or from Turnitin to VeriCite plagiarism detection software. The story is the same.

    Faculty spend hours creating content in one space and then lose it and have to be retrained in something else.

    I don’t have a great answer, but I do think that the faculty are often left out of the purchase of new digital tools that have huge impact of their teaching. And that is a problem resulting from others trying to fix budgets or technical issues.

  2. Where I am, students increasingly produce work intended for an audience. Perceived benefits include wider public appreciation of what students do, and students understanding the point and potential impact of their work.

    However, sometimes students get to the end of, say, a group project to make a small website, and would be happy to make that open – except they’ve used some copyright materials. They’re entitled to do that for internal educational use, but when it comes to publishing or opening, that needs careful thought about fair use. Some tutors are more than willing to incorporate this dilemma into their curriculum, but not all are ready to.

    Another thing, related to the same scenario, is that opening up the product of group work raises the question of what happens when members disagree about what licence to release under. I don’t think simple majoritarian approaches work here, and we need a clear policy if a group member wants to dissociate from that bit of work later on.

    Anyway, we’re getting along with pragmatic solutions – see this rather ponderous decision support https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/x/BQYzAw .

    Sadly I won’t be at the conference, but I think keynotes are streamed – am I right?

    • Thanks Mira – yes, we have those problems here, too, and I think I will incorporate these! I’m sad i won’t get to see u again but yes, keynotes are livestreamed AND there’s Vconnecting as well!

  3. For me the ultimate “shirt and trousers” case is the very fact that open was meant to allow us to stop thinking about copyright – but over time we see that actually it forces a lot of us to become quasi-lawyers and mini-copyright-police. This has been identified in more formal terms by Niva Elkin-Koren, who is a legal scholar.

    Another issue is the inherent tension between being open and being sustainable, I think that for too long open advocates did not want to discuss the issue of in particular funding content creation – assuming that the commons just happens, and does not have to be sustained.

    • Thanks Alek. I agree on those two, although my first reaction to the copyright police one was to say no, I realized a lot of us would be copyright police in public even if in private we weren’t (Peter Suber last week privately talked about how we/librarians should teach students how to find illegal copies of articles if they can’t find them legally).

  4. Hi Maha,
    What comes to mind for me is the bind we have put ourselves in considering the use and understanding of “free.” So much of what the Internet as a system promised us was so much information, and access to information for “free” – as in, without cost. This was, of course, fantastic, as in “mired in fantasy.”
    Because so many of us were willing to believe that we were getting virtually everything for nothing, we also shut our eyes to hidden and implicit costs of these wonderful new options for information access, management and collection. It took us a while before we realized that we were not only consumers and users but in fact that we and our precious data crumbs were and are the product and the fuel source to make the whole system run a profit into a small number of hands.
    So now we are deep in with our gadgets and platforms, our cultural output and remarkable levels of social capital, and also very much at the mercy of a few giant companies which dominate and skew the market in their favor, every single time.
    Now that we have made a Faustian bargain with the Internet powers that be and have grown accustomed to giving up our data in exchange for access to so much “free” stuff, we are societies reluctant to pay for anything – including quality journalism, among other things. So I’m wondering how the notion of “open” is represented in this dynamic. Has “open” become synonymous with “free” as in, ‘of no charge’? And if so, what implications does that have for knowledge producers now and in the future?
    These are just my beginner’s mind musings. We keep hoping the shirt is fixed but also tend to avoid looking below the belt, so to speak.

  5. Hi Maha – sorry I’ve just got round to this commenting on this just now. What a great idea to get input to your keynote. I love the metaphor and have been trying to think of something worthy or even remotely amusing to add:-) Over the past year I think my experience is more of having the right trousers but not the right top/jacket/shoes to go with them. What I mean is, that we have an OER policy in place in our institution which is great, but I’m not wearing “those trousers” as often as I’d like. Sometimes this is down to working on “stuff” that is so institutionally focused it won’t be a useful open resource and sometimes, it feels like I am working on an never ending outfit that. Hope that makes sense.

    • It does! But i wanna make sure I understand correctly. You mean that u can have a good OER policy but be working on projects that don’t lend themselves well to OER? So the policy isn’t useful in that context?

      Thanks Sheila

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