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Friday, November 20 • 1:00pm - 1:30pm
The sale of 'Open Content': Recognizing and negotiating philosophical quandaries in the OER definition

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Despite clear objectives and model successes for the OER discipline, mainstream discourse continues to equate the concept of Open to elements of economic/monetary cost. By itself this conflation is a frustration for the field, but when considered from a critical theory lens the quandary is symptomatic of philosophical contradictions within OER's marriage of science, technology and education, a confluence that results in Open Education but also puts stressors on said creation.

This presentation is the continuation of work analyzing the historical and philosophical shaping of the OER movement, connecting the discipline beyond pragmatic applications and to its sociocultural residence. As a frame of reference, the presentation will compare the theoretical works of Wiley, most notably the reusability paradox (2002) with the postmodern theories of Lyotard, specifically his concept of immaterials (1985). While Wiley's model for learning objects heavily mirrors Lyotard's model for message interaction, the terms and definitions each use to reference similar concepts create problems; Wiley's use of 'content' evokes information in transfer to an end-user, while Lyotard's use of 'material' is heavily focused on the tangible. Since 'content' as a term has morphed well beyond domain information to now appropriate technologically-saturated elements including field information, data and metadata, its use evokes objective solutionism where problems exist because of a lack of proper tools (Morozov, 2012).

To substitute Lyotard's 'materials' would only swap one set of obstacles for another; 'materials' denotes human touch but fails to appropriate the analytics and metadata at the heart of much of technology's current innovation. This is why practitioners continue to provide ahistorical tool solutions to a spectre problem.

The 'free vs. open' debate truly takes shape when relating the concrete back to the abstract. To open licenses and freely share across all strata limits the opportunities of content providers to track, control and market their brand. This loss of control is some of the reason why Open is antithetical to the governance and operation of many societies and cultures, most notably those of Western origin (Deleuze, 2006). Yet to herald Open as a moral good or value is to engage the subject along the same false dichotomies of progress and emancipation that have led to corporations and organizations holding more power in societies than citizens (Lyotard, 1984).

OER is a postmodern discipline; it understands the importance of information networks connected through telecommunications technology, and it recognizes the localized symbols and structures needed to interpret and use. The end of this presentation will be a call to recognize the messiness of a field where most are welcome, and from that recognition to negotiate through model and criticism the benefits of open rather than free.

avatar for Rolin Moe

Rolin Moe

truth is not capitalized =)

Friday November 20, 2015 1:00pm - 1:30pm PST
Waddington Room

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