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Open Season: The Implications, Meanings and Risks of Openness in the Digital Academy Ray Land, School of Education, Durham University 12 th Durham Blackboard.

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Presentation on theme: "Open Season: The Implications, Meanings and Risks of Openness in the Digital Academy Ray Land, School of Education, Durham University 12 th Durham Blackboard."— Presentation transcript:

1 Open Season: The Implications, Meanings and Risks of Openness in the Digital Academy Ray Land, School of Education, Durham University 12 th Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference, Durham University Jan 6 th 2012

2 Outline 1.Openness, speed and the digital; the theory of fast and slow time (Virilio, Eriksen) 2.The ‘obvious’ case for openness - a new ethics of knowledge sharing (Green) 3.The costs of openness – who pays?

3 Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (Meyer & Land) Disruptive Innovation (Christensen) Activity Theory (Yngestrom) Street Level Bureaucracy (Lipsky) 4.Problematising openness: four lenses on the issue of academic (non)engagement

4 5. The risks of openness 6. A priority agenda for action

5 1. Openness, speed and the digital; the theory of fast and slow time (Virilio, Eriksen)

6 Characteristics of the 21 st century Uncertainty Speed and acceleration Complexity Multiculturalism Mobility of the population Conflict (social, military) Inter-generational tension Need for ethical citizenship Information saturation Proliferation of knowledge Globalisation Internationalisation Private /public sector tension Increasing panic Unpredictability Risk Need for flexibility and agility Entitlement v responsibility Scarcity of resources Austerity Sustainability Need for prudence Transparency & accountability Discontinuity and rupture Shifting paradigms Poverty v affluence Outsourcing of jobs Youthfulness



9 The goal of university research is the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge. At Harvard, where so much of our research is of global significance, we have an essential responsibility to distribute the fruits of our scholarship as widely as possible.” Steven E. Hyman Provost of Harvard University


11 process fragmentation exploration visual volatility fast time consensus openness artefact cohesion exposition textual stability slow time authority containment

12 the body of the book (corpus) = the body of knowledge – makes it stable and ‘graspable’ volatility and instability of digital text infinitely editable, instantly distributable, methods for imposing fixity and authorial control (pdf, page scanning, restricted access) work against rather than with the mode of digitality

13 These sections of the web break away from the page metaphor. Rather than following the notion of the web as book, they are predicated on microcontent. Blogs are about posts, not pages. Wikis are streams of conversation, revision, amendment, and truncation.” Alexander, 2006

14 Speed supercomplexity death of geography issues of democratic space advent of universal real time tyranny of the moment slow and fast time ‘presentified’ history single gaze of the cyclops the universal accident Virilio 2000, Eriksen 2001

15 The ‘tyranny of the moment’ - effects of speed (Eriksen 2001) speed is an addictive drug speed leads to simplification speed creates assembly line (Taylorist) effects speed leads to a loss of precision

16 speed demands space (filling in all the available gaps in the lives of others) speed is contagious – when experienced in one domain the desire for speed tends to spread to new domains. gains and losses equal each other out so that increased speed does not necessarily even lead to greater efficiency.

17 textualities and temporalities fast and slow time (Eriksen)

18 Digital learning practices seem caught in an awkward tension, if not disjunction. The pedagogical claims made for them seem to be located within, and to require the integrative and deliberative logic of, what Eriksen characterises as slow time. Slow and fast time (Eriksen 2001)

19 Slow and fast time (Eriksen) As digital phenomena, however, they increasingly serve to constitute fast time, can only accelerate in their future modus operandi, and reinforce the dromocratic principle that fast time drives out and occupies the place of slow time.

20 public/private continuum  displacement of slow time to the domestic sphere  domestic privacy compromised by 24/7 digital

21 institutional control  textual instability as a reflection of instability in the academy’s idea of itself (Barnett 2005)  media implicated in the academy’s inability to claim universality in its pursuit of Truth

22 supercomplexity we now live in a world of radical contestation and challengeability, a world of uncertainty and unpredictability. In such a world, all such notions—as truth, fairness, accessibility and knowledge— come in for scrutiny. In such a process of continuing reflexivity, fundamental concepts do not dissolve but, on the contrary, become systematically elaborated…

23 In this process of infinite elaboration, concepts are broken open and subjected to multiple interpretations; and these interpretations may, and often do, conflict. As a result, we no longer have stable ways even of describing the world that we are in; the world becomes multiple worlds. (Barnett 2005 p.789)

24 authority gatekeeping – mark poster’s exploration of how digitisation shifts history as a discipline – breaking down boundaries – if all historical resources are ‘googled’, if all history work is instantly publishable, how does that affect who counts as an historian? or a journalist? what is the role of the university, of the discipline?

25 open text – loss of closure and fixity of printed page– a shift in epistemology shift in medium implies shift in reading mode, from literacy to multiliteracy, technoliteracy, visual sophistication, multimodality (Kress)

26 The risk of the digital: The DEFRA wiki

27 What forms of ‘technoliteracy’ do we need to work in these spaces? How can assessment regimes be re-crafted for these volatile spaces? What digital pedagogies work in these environments? How do these texts and technologies change the way academic knowledge is produced and distributed?


29 the five minute university Fr. Guido Sarducci, rock critic, l’Osservatore Romano, Vatican.

30 Coventry University – 18 month degree ‘lite’ @ £3,500 p.a. Buckingham University 2 yr degree. Ten minute ‘twittorials’.

31 2. The ‘obvious’ case for openness - a new ethics of knowledge sharing (Green)

32 Unique characteristic of digital items – costs nothing to store, nothing to copy and nothing to distribute. That has never existed before in human history. Also now have open licences and with mobile phones globally there is a willingness to share. Digital scholarship can be non-rivalrous if they are digital and have an open licence on them. Need a new ethics of knowledge-sharing. (Cable Green, CC)

33 unprecedented capacity for infinite re-use revision remixing redistribution

34 the marginal cost of their storage reproduction distribution is to all extent zero

35 this affords an opportunity to satisfy everyone’s right to get as much education as they desire

36 and to reclaim the original purpose of scholarship – that it be encountered and built upon and not locked up behind paywalls

37 The case for openness 29.30% of world population under 15 Today 158 million people enrolled in tertiary education. Projections suggest that participation will peak at 263 million in 2025. Accommodating the additional 105 m students would require more than four major universities (30,000 students) to open every week for the next fifteen years. (John Daniel,CEO Commonwealth of Learning, 2011)

38 Ernesto Priego (2011) May be my Mexican background: most university students of my generation only got degrees thanks to illegal photocopies. Original books were either unavailable or unaffordable. Complete networks of academic content sharing were established and the norm. As a tutor, you could not (and still cannot) teach texts your students cannot access.

39 The digital age was the logical next step. Policies that make it legal are responses to a need. There is demand for academic content. As those in the music and publishing industries and journalism have slowly learned, giving free access to fragments or complete works legally encourages people to buy content they wouldn't otherwise. Ernesto Priego

40 D. Kernohan (2011) Whilst we have gotten very good at making commercial and strategic arguments for "open" (and we need to get better), we need to be sure that we keep in mind that we are not open for the sake of open, we are open because it makes it easier for the world to access knowledge and learning. Open is profoundly linked to the roots of what academia and scholarship are based in - the idea of professing in public. I suppose we need to ask ourselves: who do we think we are?

41 Degrees of readiness an infrastructure of repositories in place; staff in institutions and UKCoRR to support general support from researchers for the principles; general encouragement and policies from funders; general support from institutions; evidence of economic benefit to HE if we change over entirely to OA; evident benefit to SMEs and commerce from having OA to results of research; strong moral and financial argument that public funded research should be publicly available

42 -and yet we still find obstructions from established and embedded publishing practices and still find very slow progress in obtaining content to make OA -‘I would say that the priority is high level governmental and funding agency strategic direction to break the log-jam’. (Cable Green, CC)

43 5% / 95% argument (Green)

44 3. The costs of openness – who pays?

45 Who pays...? Most countries spend between 5 and 6 % of GDP (Malaysia + 25% oddball) Global 58.3 trillion dollars – 3 trillion dollars a year. (2009 figures) Brazil 2.1 trillion dollars (spend 5%), EU 16.2 trillion (5%), USA 14.1 trillion (5%) Question of sustainability in times of economic stringency? – CG says wrong mindset – Open should not be seen as over there and experimental, not our standard business. Real question is how do we optimise the sunk costs we have already invested ? If OER / OCW becomes the default mode then no new money is required.

46 ‘At present, my institution spends £800k/year on journal subs. That's just a single UK HEI. For that amount of money, we could employ 16 staff members, full-time on 50k salaries to copy edit, proofread, typeset and administrate publications, in-house. If every institution had the same (actually, let's face it, we don't need anywhere near 16 full-time staff and I'm not sure they'd need £50k salaries), running journals on Gold-road OA at institutions themselves, this would be a no-brainer for payment.’ ‘It seems to me the funds are there, but at present simply prop up shareholders’.

47 Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (Meyer & Land) Disruptive Innovation (Christensen) Activity Theory (Yngestrom) Street Level Bureaucracy (Lipsky) 4.Problematising openness: four lenses on the issue of academic (non)engagement

48 Troublesome knowledge Perkins 1999

49 Troublesome knowledge ritual knowledge inert knowledge conceptually difficult knowledge the defended learner alien knowledge tacit knowledge loaded knowledge troublesome language

50 Characteristics of a threshold concept integrative transformative irreversible bounded re-constitutive discursive troublesome

51 East of Eden through the threshold

52 On OERs - Concerns of academics (Priego 2011) online medium considered 'informal' / casual /unprofessional– confuses public & private, professional and personal dispersion of academic authority fear of plagiarism of ideas lack of discretion and/or academic recognition lack of time, extra workload, further advantages unclear investigacin

53 On OERs - Concerns of academics (Priego 2011) slow adoption cycle of the Academy misunderstanding of the requirements learning process and technical effort harassment and psychological abuse online perception of online services as commercial products / hence ideological resistance investigacin investigacin

54 network/blog/2011/oct/25/open-access-higher-education ‘Even though discussing business models is essential, it's unlikely there will be any significant agreement unless models of construction of knowledge and research flow are also discussed. What interests me particularly is the shift in mentality that opening access entails. So it's not only about the money, it's about how we understand the role of universities and information providers (and Intellectual Property in the digital age is a key point to discuss here)’. On Open Access

55 Guardian Oct 25 2011 ‘One thing that I think we all find is that the whole research cycle from funding through the work, through publication and then discovery is locked into a particular pattern, with many things dependent on the journal brand. Researchers are told to publish in particular journals: there was a belief in the last RAE that publishing in particular journals would score more highly. Promotion and professional esteem are often based on which journal you publish in’.

56 Guardian Oct 25 2011 ‘The advice given to pre-tenure scholars was consistent across all fields: focus on publishing in the right venues and avoid spending too much time on public engagement, committee work, writing op-ed pieces, developing websites, blogging, and other non-traditional forms of electronic dissemination.’

57 Guardian Oct 25 2011 ‘And so while many academics are in favour of OA there is no overall incentive for academics to change their habits. Bottom-up advocacy can only go so far without needing complementary top-down messages. One thing that would help to open research is clear leadership from research funders that work should be made OA. While many funders have OA policies in place that ask for this, without clear and public statements as to the importance of this, academics may well see no reason to change’.

58 Guardian Oct 25 2011 ‘As funders are "upstream" of the whole research process, they have great power in directing how work should be done and how it is to be distributed. As public money, the argument can stretch back to government direction. There is progress towards high level support for OA - see Willett's recent supportive statement - but to get the message through and change habits still depends on high-level, very public, very vocal support’.

59 Openness as Disruptive Innovation Clayton Christensen defines DI as an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. It improves a product or service in ways the market does not expect.

60 Activity Theory (Engestrom) Social practices become ossified – ‘engrooved’. To change practice, change practices -thinking will follow. An activity system involves subjects, objects, tools, rules, division of labour and community of practice Levels often not well aligned ad gears don’t mesh Boundaries look different to different observers.

61 5. The risks of openness

62 Risks / unintended consequences the marginalisation of teachers’ knowledge and expertise; the appropriation and repurposing of ‘openness’ by incumbent corporate interests (iTunes, Android) a commodification of learning and neglect of student attribute development; a decontextualisation of learning from the ways of thinking and practising of disciplines; a possible rejection of potentially beneficial commercial partnerships and alliances;

63 Students need to take control of their own learning. Need to have a space online that is not necessarily an intermediary of the institution. Set up their own webhost. Become their own Sys Admins. They control it, they manage it and they master it. Jim Groom (MOOC, Mary Washington University)

64 an unhelpful divergence of roles amongst academics into ‘locals’ and ‘cosmopolitans’; the demise of smaller learned societies; rise of further rankings tables increasing academic self-branding & external chart ratings students devaluing of commonly available items digital Maoism, ‘sheep mind’ – over- convergence the marginalisation of languages that are less prevalent globally.

65 6. A priority agenda for action

66 1.provide (discipline-friendly) tools and training 2.promote an ethics of knowledge sharing 3.lobby senior management so OA is recognised 4.establish a cultural strategy at all levels 5.further research the consequences of openness (intended and otherwise) 6.gain top down support as an active component that would be of real value to us. (cf VC at Salford) 7.pressure bodies like funders, HEFCE, RCUK and JISC to keep on the agenda 8.continue to explore a dialogue with publishers

67 The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves … AbrahamAbraham Lincoln,Lincoln,

68 Antonio Gramsci ‘The optimism of the will and the pessimism of the intellect’.


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