In the open movement, we have built communities around Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP), but less critical attention has been paid to the foundational pieces of the technical infrastructure on which OEP and OER relies. This leads to a continuum of practices that are open-ish: MOOCs on commercial platforms that are not downloadable or very flexible, open textbooks inside proprietary platforms, OERs hidden within institutional LMS’s. Compounding this reality is a growing awareness and sensitivity to edtech as tools for surveillance, business models that seek to capitalise on behavioural surplus (Zuboff, 2015), and an emerging wave of distrust towards big tech.
The selection and implementation of educational technologies within institutions is often justified along highly instrumentalist lines, and the use of technology in learning and teaching is characterised as a “natural, necessary and largely neutral element of contemporary education” (Selwyn, 2013). Along with narratives that frame education as broken and in need of disruption, this has arguably fueled a movement towards large-scale outsourcing of edtech provision to proprietary providers.
However recent scholarship (Williamson, 2019) and our increasing understanding of the nature of the digital (Zuboff, 2015) mean that it has become vitally important to take a more critical and troubling view of educational technology. Alongside this, revised definitions more concretely center social justice as an imperative of Open Education (Lambert, 2018). As a result, we believe that we now need to pay more care and attention to the technical infrastructures that underpin our OER and OEP efforts.
In this session we will argue that embracing open source edtech as part of developing critical digital literacies is key to supporting OEP, and realizing a vision of care in openness. Care is more than a moral stance “it involves affective, ethical, and hands-on agencies of practical and material consequence” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017), and we believe that adopting and participating in open source edtech communities is therefore also a form of care in itself.
However, there are significant barriers to adoption, not least addressing some of the common fallacies around open source. We will address 5 common fallacies of open source edtech as a way to uncover the potential and advantages that they bring to supporting OEP in an age of data extraction and surveillance. We will underline the importance of considering and supporting open source models and efforts, and what this requires from a strategic and operational perspective.
Lambert, S.R., 2018. Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development – JL4D 5. https://jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/290/334
Puig de la Bellacasa, M., 2017. Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds. University of Minnesota Press.
Selwyn, N., 2013. Distrusting Educational Technology : Critical Questions for Changing Times. Routledge.
Williamson, B., 2019. The platform university: a new data-driven business model for profiting from HE. Wonkhe. URL https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-platform-university-a-new-data-driven-business-model-for-profiting-from-he/ (accessed 6.13.19).
Zuboff, S., 2015. Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. Journal of Information Technology; Basingstoke 30, 75–89. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/10.1057/jit.2015.5