This Alt-format discussion will seek to question critical issues of open practice and invisible labour within higher education, which I raised through the OER19 #femedtech Open Space.
Openness, by its nature is highly diverse and contextual. We all experience openness from different perspectives and different positions of power and prejudice, privilege and discrimination. For some of us, openness is part of our job, for some it’s our research, our field of study. For some it’s a philosophy, an ethos, a personal commitment. For some it’s political. For some it’s emotional. For many, it’s a complex mix of all of the above.
We all have a deep personal commitment to our open practice, to equity and social justice. We all want to be good citizens of the open community, making a positive contribution to the commons. But when do the hours that we willingly devote to open education start to become unacknowledged, invisible digital labour? How much does the open community rely on this invisible labour? How far does it exclude those who are unable or unwilling to contribute their labour for free?
As open practitioners the boundaries of our labour are complex and porous and this has both positive and negative consequences for our selves as individuals, community members, workers, activists and volunteers.
The recent UCU industrial action, focusing on equality, job security, fair workloads and fair pay, highlighted the problems of exploitation, discrimination and precarity that exist right across academia, and open education is far from immune. When our personal and political commitments and activism are so interwoven with an exploitative system, boundaries become blurred and it’s hard to know where, if anywhere, to draw the line. How we can balance our agency as open practitioners and citizens of the global open education community with cognisance that it is our digital labour that sustains a domain that is by turns inspiring and dispiriting, empowering and exploitative?
There are no simple answers to these questions, but this presentation will seek to raise these critical issues and invite conference participants to reflect on the nature of their own open practice and digital labour. In order to enable the wider open education community to participate in this conversation I will invite colleagues to share their own short reflections on digital labour and open practice, and collate these into a blog post prior to the conference. Experiences and reflections are also welcome at the #femedtech Open Space.
Campbell, L.M. (2019). Open Practice and Invisible Labour. Open World. Available at: http://lornamcampbell.org/higher-education/open-practice-and-invisible-labour/ [Accessed 08122019].
Campbell, L.M. (2019). Where to draw the line? Open World. Available at: http://lornamcampbell.org/higher-education/where-to-draw-the-line/ [Accessed 08122019].
femedtech Open Space. Available at: http://femedtech.net/ [Accessed 08122019].
University and College Union. (2019). Everyone Out. Available at: https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction [Accessed 08122019].
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