This is going to be hard for me. It shouldn't be, I have opinions. But I also feel vulnerable. Vulnerable to let my opinions be known. To be so "out there". But how can I be a proponent of open if I am not?
In 2015, I took a course at Athabasca University, "Openness in Education". Although I knew some things about "open", the course called to my attention its nuances. I learned about the complexities inherent in the language we choose when speaking about open, in particular OER. I was reminded that free is about cost and access. That access must consider varying contexts and computing and communications infrastructures, accessibility, and not just the ability to "click" and use. That use must contemplate the ease of localization and adaptation to account for a variety of cultural, curricular and pedagogical perspectives. And this doesn't even begin to address issues of quality, discoverability, sustainability, or support, let alone open pedagogies or scholarship....And so began my meander down the path of open.
This is not going to be a long post. But on contemplating what open means to me...at the moment it mostly means that I need to take more risks. I actually need to be more open, even when I feel vulnerable. As it is in this vulnerability, that I will learn even more. So I will leave you with this reflection from a paper I wrote from the above-mentioned course -
I work at a post-secondary institution in southwestern Ontario - the University of Guelph. This year the department I work for was called out on social media for “openwashing” (Graver, 2015) for its mark of the blend OpenEd (Open Learning and Educational Support). A trademark claim against the 12th Annual Open Education Conference had others calling the University’s actions “shameful” (Groom, 2015). Understandably so, the trademarking of this portmanteau was problematic for scholars and other proponents involved in the ‘OpenEd’ movement, and the irony presented by the marking of something defined as open was clear. The trademark was eventually released. And while I understand the department’s use of the blend was to signify ‘open’ as in door, versus ‘open’ as in free to access, use, modify and share, beyond the flurry of tweets, I was left with some lingering questions. In a blog post, Brian Lamb (2015) noted that the department’s website makes “no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc…” and so I was left wondering…why?
On being asked to reflect on this first three weeks of study and on concepts of openness and OER, I would posit that I am hopeful that some of my learning will contribute positively to change. The many benefits of “iterating towards openness” (I love the name of David Wiley’s blog) seem clearer to me now than they did in the summer. And though the work may be complex, I look forward to
starting the conversations.
Graver, F. (2015, June 5). «Openwashing» - a good term for what @uofg is doing
#uofg. Profoundly dishonest and not worthy of higher education. [TWEET].
Retrieved from https://twitter.com/fgraver/status/606684828596097024
Groom, J. (2015, June 4). The University of Guelph trademarking the term
OpenEd is shameful. [TWEET]. Retrieved from
Lamb, B. (2015, June 5). Questions for the University of Guelph on its Trademark
of OpenEd. [BLOG] Retrieved from http://abject.ca/questionsforuofg/