1. I get ‘open’, I really do…but why should I share anything when the enemy down the road gives fuck all?
2. I would, but that would mean asking other members of staff for their packs,… and they wouldn’t like that
At the end of November 2013 I unfortunately missed the rearranged JISC RSC Scotland Open Education event held at Edinburgh University. Although it’s taken a bit of time to get this post online I was thankfully able to keep up with the discussion using the RSC’s YouTube Channel.
Open Scotland got the proceedings underway with a presentation that was shared between Lorna Campbell and Joe Wilson. Lorna began by providing some background to the work of Open Scotland and it’s clear to see that there’s a lot of encouraging activity in Scotland with the Open Knowledge Foundation, OBSEG and Scotland’s first Wikimedian-in-Residence. However, it was also made clear that open educational practices continue to be less embedded in Scotland than they are in other places, including England.
And yet, as depressing as the two quotations from the lecturers are, I don’t think they are cause for despair. Both lecturers appear to want to share but are somehow restricted by ‘the other’. This reminded me of Lenin’s analysis that whilst capitalism predisposes the workers to the acceptance of socialism it does not make them conscious Socialists. I’ve re-worked this such that whilst there may be a general acceptance of open in the Scottish FE community it doesn’t automatically lead to open practices.
So, what is to be done?
Well, it’s definitely about empowering individuals at the grassroots with the pedagogic and technical literacies. But it’s also about the conditions that makes the use of the literacies possible. There needs to be a policy context.
What I think is significant about the lecturers’ statements is the way that they both, independently, frame the resistance to sharing such that in both cases, it’s ‘the other’ that prevents them. Whilst for the first speaker ‘the other’ is the college down the road, the competitor, the ones on the outside of the institution, for the second speaker the ‘other’ isn’t even on the outside of the same office, let alone outside the institution. ‘The other’ is powerful and pervasive.
Although not disagreeing with Joe that there remains in the dark Calvinistical soul of the Scottish character a lingering fear of change, but I would argue that instead of thinking of the lecturers’ words as reflections of an inner state I think we need to see their language as something as much more discursive. Mills describes Foucauldian discourse as ‘practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak’, and so it isn’t about convincing these guys not to be scared or not be fearful but rather to put in place the practices that makes sharing, to borrow Lenin’s terminology, spontaneous.
the practices of the state are embodied within its institutions
and the use of “the enemy” in the first lecturer’s quotation shows, not just how deeply the institutions had embodied that ideology of Thatcherite competition, but also how effectively that rivalrous structure has, in turn, been internalised by their staff members. The dismantling of the Thatcherite/Conservative structure of FE college management was always explicitly one of Michael Russell’s political drivers for college regionalisation in Scotland. However as much as regionalisation and reclassification are to be welcomed they won’t, by themselves, bring about the institutionalisation of open practices.
In a way, this is why the Future Cities: Open Glasgow project is so important. Although the project isn’t educationally driven or minded, it does seem to indicate that certain open practices are starting to slowly filter down from central to local government. And yet, even if every local authority in Scotland (and there are enough of them) were to follow Glasgow’s lead (which they eventually will) it will still be necessary for the technological interests of the individual to align with the political interests of the institution, and the state. In the words of the recent Norwegian Government’s report ‘these must be connected together and clearly have the same effect’, (in Campbell, 2013).
This could be done by effectively re-licencing the educational resources produced by publicly-funded educational institutions. Copyright would no longer reside with the institution but would lie within the public domain. However, “if” the quotations at the top of this post are in any way representative of what FE lecturers in Scotland actually think then I’m not entirely sure that a change in licensing would quickly undo years of state-sponsored rivalry.
Maybe it could be more effectively driven in the way that Cable Green advocated in Washington State, such that public money would only be forthcoming if publicly-funded educational institutions adopted open practices that were genuinely beneficial to the public. So with the smallest rewordings of the Nordic OER Alliance’s ideas, Scottish FE institutions could continue to receive
- funding, if they invest in improving the level of digital literacies of their staff which makes openness possible;
- funding, if their staff make available top quality open educational resources;
- funding, if they develop the infrastructure and pedagogy of online learning
- funding, if the public derives benefit from their MOOCs
Only if an institution can demonstrate their openness should the institution be granted 100 pc of their funding allocation. By changing the funding nature of the political relationship between educational institutions and the state, this would, in turn, change the technological relationship of the individual to their institution. Whatever way it’s done, it needs done.
Campbell, L. ‘Norwegian Government MOOC Report and Digitization Programme’, Open World, posted 18 December 2013, http://lornamcampbell.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/norwegian-government-mooc-report-and-digitization-programme/, accessed 21 December 2013
Campbell, L. ‘Open Scotland’, Cetis Blog, posted 03 May 2013, http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/lmc/2013/05/03/open-scotland/, accessed 29 December 2013
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Open Scotland – Lorna Robertson [sic] (Cetis) & Joe Wilson (SQA) #rscopen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jay46_G72Vg&list=PLc2anW26Q_I_7W8-fV75C2KIQc_JboIjA&index=1, YouTube, published 2 December 2013, accessed 14 December 2013
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- (2013a) ‘What sort of open do you want?’, The Ed Techie, (posted 30 October 2013), http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2013/10/what-sort-of-open-do-you-want.html, accessed 14th December 2013
- (2013b) ‘The Battle for Open – a perspective’, in Journal of Interactive Media in Education, Selected papers from OER13 Conference (March 2013) hosted at University of Nottingham. OER13: Evidence, Experiences and Expectation, JIME Nottingham OER 2013 special issue, http://jime.open.ac.uk/article/2013-15/html, accessed 19 December 2013
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