A Slow Introduction to Open

I didn’t come to open via Creative Commons licenses, open textbooks, MOOCs, or open software – although those are all things that are now part of my life of open.  My world of open was a pragmatic introduction to open universities, having seen a family member shut out of traditional higher education but eventually finding his way to an open university where he was able to complete a degree and be set on a new path.  So for me open is about access, and I care a lot about open as helping to create equity through better access.

Of course, we know that open on its own doesn’t solve an equity or access problem.  My interest in open now is to find a way to address gaps that might not be getting enough attention, and try to proactively contribute to resolving them.  For example, as open initiatives around the world continue to expand, I’m interested in surfacing OERs created in other languages so that there is a broader awareness of how language politics, the predominance of English in the production of OERs, and concerns about the amplification of ‘Western’ knowledge systems are intertwined.  

I’ve had to learn that the access part of open that I care about isn’t as simple as I once thought…just because something is free and available for use does not automatically make it accessible or valuable.

But while I think it’s important to bring a critical eye to open, so much of my daily work life has been made easier, better, richer because of open.  Open textbooks save our students money, open courses allow access to JIBC courses for our many non-traditional, unconventional learners, open publishing makes it easier and faster to access current research, open technologies allow us to create better learning environments for our students.  I hope that after this week, you will find your own way towards easier, richer, and better.


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