In her keynote “From Open to Justice,” Audrey Watters argues that the open community must move beyond conceptualizing open as a license or access point, and endeavor to make this work political in every sense of the word. As a consequence, she calls for those working in the open space to practice “an ethics of care, of justice, [to] not assume that ‘open’ does the work of those for us.” Our session has this call to action at its core, as we believe that if we (as a community) do not interrogate what open means or what we want it to do, it will become meaningless.
In the toolbox of most open educators and advocates is a well-refined “elevator pitch”: a brief, impassioned argument for the value of open education, which can be customized and delivered to various stakeholders whenever an opportunity arises. While the elevator pitch is a useful tool, it is somewhat limiting insofar as it focuses on re-affirming the values, ideas, and perspectives of the stakeholder. Moreover, the overreliance on sales-based techniques means that the pitch often perpetuates a saviourist rhetoric. When “open” is touted as the solution to any and every problem, it becomes a stand-in for all that is good. An unquestioning acceptance (or unawareness) of this conflation can distance the educator or advocate from both the complexity of open work and the ideals that drew them to open in the first place.
In this workshop, we will be getting participants to create a short statement of values that clearly articulates why they support open education. This statement will serve as a personal touchstone to reflect on their open education work both now and in the future. Participants will be led through a guided exploration of their personal and professional values as they influence their work as open practitioners. More specifically, we will push them to interrogate who their openness includes, how they exercise openness, and the myriad ways this influences their practice. We will explore topics like labour, traditional knowledge, technocracy, accessibility, and digital nativism as we break down and rebuild our understanding of the word “open.” Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of what open means to them and how to integrate their personal values into their open practice.
Following the session, participants will be given the option to share their values statement publicly. The facilitators will also publish an article(s) outlining the workshop goals and methods for workshop facilitation, and highlighting completed values statements that participants have shared.
The session will be split into three parts, all of which will be 30 minutes in length.
The first section will be quite interactive. It will focus on breaking down “open” by getting participants to write out discrete values or concepts that they care about that open makes possible (ex. accessibility, ethical data sharing practices). In doing so, we will get participants to move beyond the high level open education discourse around social good and affordability into more discrete, understandable items. We will then move into a discussion about who benefits from open education work, examining how these populations intersect with the explicated values and concepts.
The second section of the workshop will be more lecture-based. During this portion, we will facilitate a discussion that covers some of the more critical conversations related to open: its rhetoric, digital nativism, accessibility, labour practices, and its (in)compatibility with indigenous knowledge.
The third section of the workshop will require participants to reflect upon and synthesize their values from the first section with the critical perspectives presented in the second section. This will be an opportunity for quiet writing and reflection, but some time will be left at the end for participants to share back their statement back with the larger group for feedback and discussion.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have a completed values statement to help guide their practice. Although this statement will be conceptualized and created over the course of the workshop, the value of this activity is enduring: it is a living, iterative exercise that participants can revisit and re-engage with as their practice evolves.
Watters, A. (2014). From Open to Justice. [online] Hack Education. Available at: http://hackeducation.com/2014/11/16/from-open-to-justice [Accessed 28 Nov. 2018].