Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Motivations for Open #cccert

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

On CCCert Slack channel on the CC Slack team, a conversation started about the motivations and values we have behind open. I am sure different people are coming at this from different perspectives, but I have two main ones (and as you look at them, it’ll be clear why licensing is not the center of my universe by any means).

Why are we here (learning about open), what are we here for? Which values are we advocating for (when we advocate for open)?

The two things that personally motivate me about openness are

  1. Social justice. This is not just affordability (economic justice) but also ability for diverse voices, especially marginal voices, to be included, which commercial publishers often don’t include, or at least, don’t allow you to translate, curate or adapt the way an OER does. Having said this, it’s important to realize that when/if we restrict ourselves to using only open material, we may end up reproducing dominant discourses because those have traditionally had more resources available to them to create open materials!! So for example if you only use open materials in your courses, you may not find much in non-dominant languages! Or some newer voices who write may need to retain their copyright for financial reasons. Things like that. The different dimensions of social justice (economic, cultural and political) come from the work of Nancy Fraser and are beautifully tied to Open education by Cheryl Hogkinson-Williams and Trotter in this article.
  2. The pedagogical value of liberating knowledge – and to me that’s not so much about zero cost but about learners being able to messily construct their own knowledge rather than getting it in neat packages…and that’s not something you get from OER but from open pedagogy (which may or may not center around OER, as I explained before). Some of this empowerment of learners (and honestly teachers too) can work toward social justice and some won’t and that’s OK… the micro empowerment within a classroom or an individual’s own liberation and agency are worthwhile. Also worth noting here is that when learners construct their own knowledge openly, this experience can have negative social justice effects, again because either less dominant discourses are more difficult to find (so you would need to facilitate the ethos of trying to find it, see its value) or because some work in the open can make learners more vulnerable, and we are not all equally fragile online. The risks are different depending on your intersectionality and your context (e.g. risk of political tweeting and blogging under authoritarian regimes and their surveillance machines).

I’ve written briefly on different kinds of open pedagogy (see my contribution here What is Open Pedagogy Anyway?) but I’m expanding this model (working with others like Robin DeRosa) and hoping to extend the work of Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter… and hoping to share it more widely soon inshallah.

One Comment

  1. I really needed the reminder about “learners messily constructing their own knowledge” being so important to open pedagogy. My students are in the messy middle of a big project and it’s so tempting to tidy/close things up when we run into unanticipated hurdles.

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