It is widely held that education is fundamentally an act of sharing. Indeed, this is captured in the aphorism “education is sharing”. Similarly, sharing is encoded in the tagline of the Creative Commons website that says, “When we share everyone wins”.
From its inception, the open education movement has sought to combine the established tradition of sharing in education with the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet (Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2007). However, it may be that the concept of sharing has been taken up in too general or simplistic terms and unproblematically considered as it shifts to being mediated through digital and networked technologies.
Sharing can mean both ‘sharing out’ and ‘sharing in’, which in effect translates to sharing out resources and sharing in life’s experiences. Anthropologists view sharing as a complex social phenomenon that essentially amounts to a demand (Widlok, 2017). The demand is instigated through specific requirements relating to bodily co-presence, relatedness and interaction. The networked architecture of the Internet inherently supports, possibly amplifies, sharing as a demand. Moreover, sharing is an economic mode of transfer distinguishable from both market exchange and gift exchange with its overtures of reciprocity. Ultimately, sharing enables “others to access what is valued” (Widlok, 2017, p. 1).
Locating openness within the context of Networked Participatory Scholarship (Veletsianos and Kimmons, 2012), this presentation will share a selection of data collected from practitioner interviews. This will highlight the activities and practices involved in sharing as a demand and show precisely what it is that is being shared in these instances in terms of both resources and experiential aspects of life. This in turn will help to show how value may be created within open educational practices and to who this value might accrue. It will also help to show the nature of labour that is involved in aspects of open educational practice. This is salient given that Audrey Watters (2018) has raised the issue of ‘invisible labour’ in relation to open practices and senior figures in the Creative Commons organisation are discussing the problem of the ‘value gap’ that arises when online intermediaries capture a disproportionate amount of the value derived from the producers of culture and information (Browne et al., 2018).
This presentation will provide participants with an opportunity to engage in discussion about the evolving sharing economics of open education in terms of both labour and resources.
Browne, D., Merkley, R., Park, J. and Steuer, E. (2018). ‘CC Global Summit: Creative Commons and the Values Gap’. Available at: https://ccglobalsummit2018.sched.com/event/E702/creative-commons-and-the-values-gap
Cape Town Open Education Declaration (2007). Available at: http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-thedeclaration
Veletsianos, G. and Kimmons, R. (2012). ‘Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks’, Computers & Education, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 766–774.
Watters, A. (2018). ‘Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias’, Hack Education. Available at: http://hackeducation.com/2018/05/04/cuny-labor-open
Widlok, T. (2017). Anthropology and the Economy of Sharing, London; New York, Routledge.