On Selections from “Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science,” edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener

On Selections from “Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science,” edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener

Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science draws together research and writing on Open Education. Primarily, the chapters reflect on Open Education initiatives, including the creation and use of Open Educational Resources (OER). Below, I quickly summarize a handful of chapters that are relevant to my current research into open social scholarship.

“Iterating Toward Openness: Lessons Learned on a Personal Journey,” by David Wiley
In “Iterating Toward Openness: Lessons Learned on a Personal Journey,” David Wiley discusses his professional history with Open Educational Resources (OER). He reports on major takeaways from years of research projects on OER. Primarily, he takes issue with the idea that developing large databases of free educational resources will facilitate the ultimate goal of widespread OER take up and use. Instead, it is important to focus on the human factor, as Wiley does with his co-developed company Lumen Learning. “We are engaged in a systemic change process,” Wiley writes; “a human change process” (206). As such, it is key to focus on the humans involved: teachers and students. Wiley and Lumen Learning spend significant time on creating teacher-focused resources and training instructors on how to utilize them effectively during their course building.

“From OER to Open Pedagogy: Harnessing the Power of Open,” by Robin De Rosa and Scott Robison
In “From OER to Open Pedagogy: Harnessing the Power of Open,” Robin De Rosa and Scott Robison make the argument for Open Educational Resources (OER), but not for the oft-cited reason that they believe education should be freely available to all. (Or, at least, not only for this reason.) Rather, they argue that OER represent an opportunity to co-create learning experiences with students. They see the development of OER as amenable for a specific style of student-centred learning, as well as evidence of the far-reaching potential of open pedagogy. They ask, “How can OER offer a more robust vision for centring our students in their educational experience?” (117). De Rosa and Robison provide real life examples of co-creating knowledge with students through open pedagogy, including on Wikipedia, through student-led textbook development, and student websites. Overall, they rally for more engaged, pedagogically-designed OER.

“Opening Science,” by Brian A. Nosek
In “Opening Science,” Brian A. Nosek describes the mission and structure of the Center for Open Science, a research lab that he runs. The Center for Open Science focuses on using open practices, including crowdsourcing and collaboration, to assess scientific results of experiments. Nosek argues that there is a gap between what scientists value and how they act. That is, scientists value open sharing and collaboration in theory, but in practice they are often not willing to share research results widely and will even falsify or skew results in order to claim a more desirable or surprising research outcome. But Nosek has a handful of suggestions for tackling this issue:

One step is to show that the norms and values are actually shared, even if they are not rewarded in practice. A second step is to make it easy for people to behave according to their values, and particularly to not be punished for doing so. A third step is to surface when people are practicing the valued behaviors to signal to others that it is possible, practical, even prevalent. A fourth step is to show that the counternorms are having negative consequences on the quality of research, providing a means of reinforcing the normative behaviors. And, a final step is to shift the cultural incentives so that they actually support and reinforce the normative behaviors. (90-91)

The Center for Open Science aims to follow these steps in order to shift the research culture of the sciences.

“Free is Not Enough,” by Richard Baraniuk, Nicole Finkbeiner, David Harris, Dani Nicholson, and Daniel Williamson.
In “Free is Not Enough,” Richard Baraniuk, Nicole Finkbeiner, David Harris, Dani Nicholson, and Daniel Williamson provide an overview of OpenStax, “a dynamic non-profit digital ecosystem serving millions of users per month in the delivery of educational content to improve learning outcomes” (cnx.org). Baraniuk et al. provide the standard argument for OER: that educational resources should be affordable and accessible. OpenStax differs from some other open initiatives, however, in their attitutde toward free resources and their reliance on partnering with sometimes corporate organizations, referred to as “allies.” The title of this chapter might lead one to believe that the authors are saying the OER need to be more than just free–that they also need to be engaging and student-centred, as De Rosa and Robison (2017) argue, or focused on teacher-training, as Wiley (2017) suggests. Those are not, however, Baraniuk et al.’s arguments. In fact, the authors contest that OER don’t actually have to be free all of the time. Free is not an integral part of open, for Baraniuk et al. OpenStax relies on their allies to facilitate a complex educational ecosystem, and this means that profit plays a role as well — if not for OpenStax directly, then for their partners. 

“Open as Default: The Future of Education and Scholarship,” by Rajiv S. Jhangiani

In “Open as Default: The Future of Education and Scholarship,” Rajiv S. Jhangiani wraps up the collection with a call to arms for the open movement. He is forthright with his opinions on the moral imperative of open practices in academia, and with his belief that the academy in its current manifestation is “broken.” Jhangiani also outlines steps to take to encourage the uptake of open practices, at the national / governmental, institutional, and collegial level. Jhangiani ends the chapter, and thus the collection, on a positive note: “At their heart, both education and science are about service through creation, sharing, and application of knowledge, goals that are compromised by traditional practices that are closed and broken. This is why,” he continues, “I believe that the future of both education and scholarship is open” (276). (Hurrah!)

Works cited

Baraniuk, Richard, Nicole Finkbeiner, David Harris, Dani Nicholson, and Daniel Williamson. 2017. “Free is Not Enough.” In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 219-226. London: Ubiquity Press.

De Rosa, Robin, and Scott Robison. 2017. “From OER to Open Pedagogy: Harnessing the Power of Open.” In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 115-124. London: Ubiquity Press.

Jhangiani, Rajiv S. 2017. “Open as Default: The Future of Education and Scholarship.” In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 267-79. London: Ubiquity Press.

Jhangiani, Rajiv S., and Robert Biswas-Diener, eds. 2017. Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science. London: Ubiquity Press.

Nosek, Brian A. 2017. “Opening Science.” In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 89-100. London: Ubiquity Press.

Wiley, David. 2017. “Iterating Toward Openness: Lessons Learned on a Personal Journey.” In Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, 195-207. London: Ubiquity Press.

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