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The Ethics of Open [clear filter]
Thursday, November 3

1:40pm EDT

#TateGate: A Case Study in the Ethics of Open
The presentation analyzes #TateGate, the controversy around web-enabled annotation platforms such as Genius and Hypothes.is, as a case study of the ethics of open. Bloggers can moderate, delete, or forbid comments. Should they be able to do the same with annotations? What if the notes are abusive, or more like graffiti than reasoned commentary? Can the open web also be a safe space? Should it be? Hypothes.is, a popular annotation platform for web documents, says its mission is ""To enable a conversation over the world's knowledge."" What happens when conversation turns to argument? What happens when argument becomes hate speech? What happens when argument descends to catcalls and abuse? Yet what are the consequences of trying to protect and regulate speech on the open web, for any reason? Most of all, how does the possibility of unregulated and unmanageable commentary mean for educational practices such as blogging on the open web?

This session raises far more questions than it supplies answers. By examining the complexities of this question, however, and drawing analogies ranging from the Glossa Ordinaria and the Geneva Bible to Trump Chalking, and by including specific examples from the use of hypothes.is in teaching and learning, this session seeks to provoke and catalyze deeper learning and more searching, poignant modes of thought in both attendees and speakers. Come wrestle with some of the fundamental contradictions? paradoxes? riddles? tragedies? of the human condition, as revealed by a new World Wide Web affordance. (And yes, part of the session will be available ahead of time so attendees may annotate the document in real time as a semi-permanent backchannel, a new phenomenon in computer-mediated communication.

If you like "wicked problems," and if you have a mind for recursion, this is the session you won't want to miss.

avatar for Gardner Campbell

Gardner Campbell

Assoc.Prof. of English, Virginia Commonwealth University

Thursday November 3, 2016 1:40pm - 2:05pm EDT

2:40pm EDT

Open Education as a Real Utopia
The proliferation of educational resources, practices, and policies across the globe is presenting a promising array of potentials for change in education. Yet, Cronin's (2016) intriguing prompt for the OER16 conference keynote, "If open is the answer, then what is the question?" highlights the rather uncertain ambitions and ambiguous principles that permeate the movement. Propelled by the material possibilities of the Internet, the networks that flow through it, and the liberation of intellectual property through open licensing, open education has been focused on exploration of the possible to the neglect of a theoretical or ethical grounding. Indeed, Wiley (2015) too has recently argued for a deepening of engagements with notions of care and sharing in open education to ground open practice beyond mere rules or directions.

For instance, in North America the focus of the open education movement lies squarely upon the provision of open textbooks. This development is a well-warranted response to an educational context rife with exceedingly expensive educational materials. It is a powerful approach to embedding open principles in education by highlighting the alignment to "access" and "affordability" that dominate in North American educational policy discourse. However, this focus limits broader understandings of open education such as open research, open pedagogies, and other open educational practices. Further, the focus on open textbooks shies away from an explicit engagement with political and theoretical underpinnings of "open" and as such limits exploration of the emancipatory potentials of open education.

In this paper, I lay out a framework that balances theoretical and ethical formulations with an eye towards practical implementations. In development for over 20 years, Wright's (2010) framework of "real utopias" is an approach to constructing "a normative theory of the possible" (2012, p. 2). Following Wright, the paper is laid out in four parts. First, referencing Farrow's (2016) nascent development of an ethics for open education, I review a set of moral principles by which we can judge existing educational institutions. Second, I mobilize those principles as an analytic for diagnosis of problems and critique of practices in education. Third, I explore how open can be applied as a viable alternative to the problems exposed. Finally, I conclude with some reflection on how "real utopias" can offer a grounded theory of what is possible in open education.


Cronin, C. (2016, April 18). If open is the answer, Then what is the question? Keynote address for the OER16 conference. Edinburgh, UK.

Farrow, R. (2016). A framework for the ethics of open education. Open Praxis, 8(2). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpr axis.8.2.291

Wright, E. O. (2010). Envisioning real utopias. London, UK: Verso.

Wright, E. O. (2012). Transforming capitalism through real utopias. American Sociological Review, 78(1), 1-25. doi: 10.1177/0003122412468882

Wiley, D. (2015, January 15). The deeper ethics of education and open: Generosity, care, and relationships [Web log]. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3732

avatar for Jamison Miller

Jamison Miller

PhD Student; Director of Teaching and Learning, College of William and Mary; Lumen Learning
Doctoral candidate and early-career researcher in open education theory, policy, and practice. Director of Teaching and Learning at Lumen Learning. The dissertation WILL be defended this year.

Thursday November 3, 2016 2:40pm - 3:05pm EDT
Friday, November 4

1:40pm EDT

College Affordability, Social Justice and the Case for an Ethic of Openness
Higher education is approaching a period of transformation unlike anything experienced since the Enlightenment era. The long held belief that college is a privilege is being questioned not only by a generation of young adults seeking the opportunities of previous generations, but also by the top contenders of a political party seeking to hold the highest position in our nation. The assertion that college is a right, and as such must be made available and affordable to all citizens brings with it a host of assumptions, questions and dilemmas.

The ethics of education is among the most talked about issues in the run up to our next presidential election. Proposals for tuition free community college, tuition free public colleges and universities, and student loan forgiveness are grounded in a theory of Social Justice. What seems to be missing from these crucial discussions is the fact that educational leaders and activists have been addressing the ethics of education through the concept of Openness.

This presentation will give a brief history of some of the key transitions in education from Ancient Greece through modern times, and highlight ethical theory as it applies to educational opportunity. The idea that college affordability is a social justice issue that has been largely influenced by the open education movement will be presented, and participants will be invited to share their own thoughts on how open education redefine higher education for the 21st century.

avatar for Wm. Preston James

Wm. Preston James

Director, Northern Virginia Community College
I have worked in higher education for 20 years… as faculty, administrator, and consultant. As Director of Instructional Services at NOVA, I oversee the online learning and educational technology services, manage instructional training and certification, and lead the OER initiative... Read More →

Friday November 4, 2016 1:40pm - 2:05pm EDT