Power, Publishing, and A Broader Vision for OER

OER philosophy

Open licenses are a hugely powerful tool in education, opening the the door to a whole world of possibility and change. But if we expand our definition and understanding of openness beyond licenses, we potentially have an even more powerful tool to begin addressing systemic inequities in society. As Ethan Senack recently pointed out in his post, A Broader Form of Openness, “it’s unfair to expect open licensing alone to fix [problems of inequity], or for open advocates to tackle them all at once. Lack of access, inequity, exclusion: these power structures are too deeply ingrained in, and perpetuated by, our education system.” I would add, these power structures are just as deeply ingrained in the publishing industry that produces and delivers content into that education system. But they don’t have to be.

When I think of a broader form of openness in education, I think of an open, democratic, inclusive publishing ecosystem that enables students, faculty, instructors, librarians, instructional designers, postdocs, other educators, and others invested in the value of education to create and use the content they need. In other words, content that speaks to their contexts. With that as a different kind of foundation, I’ll be exploring these ideas during a panel discussion at #OpenEd18 in Niagara Falls, NY in a couple of weeks. I’ll be speaking about avoiding replicating the issues of the traditional publishing industry, and the importance of moving from considering publishing as an industry to considering publishing as an act. This is closely tied to the idea of who decides what is worth publishing—or more accurately, who should decide. Those choices are far from neutral, however, which has wide ranging consequences for students and instructors as the end users. I look forward to starting the discussion in our conference session and hope you’ll take the time to join us if you’re attending.

Session details:

A Broader Vision for OER
Speakers: Ethan Senack, Jess Mitchell, Rajiv Jhangiani, Dave Ernst, Zoe Wake Hyde
October 12, 2018, 2:45 – 3:45 PM

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