As I haven’t drafted any content yet, so far this post just displays the references and notes I’ve already collected.
A running list of works I’ve found relating to the CARE Framework, collected in the Zotero Open Knowledge Practices group library under the tag “careframework” and here presented in chronological order by publication date. Contact me with suggestions of other works to add or to join the Zotero OKP group so you can add to the collection yourself.
A dynamic list of my annotated notes on works related to the CARE Framework.
This post involves a bit of Frankenstein thinking, because two — seemingly unrelated — posts I came across recently made connections for me. Let’s see if I can explain why I think they’re connected. TL;DR: While I have gigantic respect for both authors of these posts, I think both ask us to view things too generally, without paying attention to details that matter.
The first came to me by way of a challenge prompt in the #EngageMOOC running now, shepherded by Natalie Delia Deckard, Bonnie Stewart, Sundi Richard, Arianna Montero-Colbert, Annie Sadler, et al. The prompt is a quote from John Perry Barlow, who I’m sad to say recently passed away after a life of inspiring me and so many others to think differently. The quote comes from a remarkable meeting between JPB and bell hooks in 1995, which is a conversation I would have thought could come to us only in a wonderful dream if it had not actually happened.
It’s not that there’s anything particularly healthy about cyberspace in itself, but the way in which cyberspace breaks down barriers. Cyberspace makes person-to-person interaction much more likely in an already fragmented society. The thing that people need desperately is random encounter. That’s what community has. — John Perry Barlow
JPB was a more complex thinker than this one quote suggests — he wasn’t a simplistic cheerleader for “cyberspace” the way some have made him out to be. And yet, I find myself caught on how JPB characterizes cyberspace here in just one, positive way: as a breaker of barriers, bringing people together in an otherwise fragmented society through random encounters, that also, somehow, generate community.
From where we sit in 2018, it may be easy to look on JPB’s quote as a naive view. But as soon as I read it, my mind popped to something else I’d read recently that gave me the same kind of pause, from another thinker that has influenced me (and others) a lot: David Wiley, writing on Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source.
David ends his reflections by asking us if we’d like to live in a world where commercial organizations are heavily engaged in creating, distributing, and stewarding open educational resources, just like so many are now in open technologies. He also chides us in the open community a bit for not being more welcoming of commercial engagement in OER.
I take the same kind of pause I did reading JPB’s quote. To me, both cyberspace and OER are tools that I think can be used to generate positive outcomes, but can also (very clearly I think) be used to generate outcomes I don’t support, like political polarization or business models that sell us back our experiences rather than proprietary content. While cyberspace and OER both have inherent structural characteristics, none of those characteristics guarantee any specific social outcome. To argue otherwise would require a kind of technological determinism, right?
So in the same way I might look askance at the idea of cyberspace healing a fragmented society, I might also question whether an intensifying adoption of OER in commercial educational publishers is necessarily a good thing for education. The Internet might spread and OER may “win” (to paraphrase David), but neither necessarily guarantees the outcomes I want to see.
When I come across these grand statements, I always want to stop and find the more complicated story that doesn’t ask us to believe or accept that cyberspace or OER are always good, just because they sometimes are.
An offhand, only half-serious comment I made in the Creative Commons open education slack channel in response to a very worthy question from BCCampus’ Amanda Coolidge led to a new (?) metaphor to help explain the different open-licensing implications between collecting and redistributing a group of works with different open licenses versus actually remixing several works to form a new, derivative work: hereafter known as the TV dinner vs the smoothie.
A “TV dinner” open work is when one collects separate works together and redistributes that collection, but clearly separates each work and its attribution. In this case, one is not “remixing” works, but rather curating them and offering that curation to others. Like with real TV dinners, you can still consume each ingredient by itself because they are served with clear boundaries separating each. In an open-license TV dinner, each work maintains its separate license and the collection does not need to reconcile the different licenses because each work stands alone in the collection.
A “smoothie” open work is when one mixes together parts or the whole of one work with parts or wholes of other works to create a new, derivative work that includes material from many sources. Like with real smoothies, you can’t easily separate the different ingredients once they are blended together. In an open-license smoothie, one can only include works with mutually compatible open licenses and the open license of the full derivative work must be consistent with the licenses of all the included works, typically the most restrictive license.
To help illustrate the metaphor I created some (admittedly slapdash) illustrations, and with some input from Creative Commons’ Cable Green and Ryan Merkley and others, have refined them a bit and offer them here for others to use to help illustrate and explain these different situations. In case you were wondering and like to go meta, yes, these images are themselves smoothies, so I was careful to include only works with compatible copyright statuses and license the new derivative works with licenses that are consistent with all the works I used.
Feel free to download and retain/reuse/revise/remix/redistribute these images and/or the original Sketch file, as long as you adhere to the various open licenses of the materials. Let me know if I can help provide modifications or different formats for these works, and I’m always happy to hear if people find them useful or not.
I’ve been working with open resources for some time and have recently wanted to make a profound shift in the way I think about open permissions, or “the 5Rs” (Retain, Reuse, Remix, Revise, Redistribute) as they are known. TL;DR: Let’s move away from thinking of the 5Rs as qualities of artifacts and instead think of them as tools we use in the activities of opening knowledge practices.
Our tendency to focus primarily on the openness of objects comes out of a couple of things. First, a deep bias in our (Western) culture to privilege objects over activities, primarily because objects are so much easier to collect, catalog, measure, own, and therefore buy and sell. The bias is so strong that we often turn both beings (like humans and other living things) and activities (like education or research) into objects so that they can more easily participate in the economy of things. (I can’t resist pointing to the obvious connections here to other conversations, like objectification in psychoanalytics and reification in Marxism.)
Also, it’s no surprise that we would focus on artifacts when the 5Rs and the open licensing that supports them have grown out of copyright, when copyright itself is primarily a mechanism designed to turn activities into artifacts. Copyright is a machine to produce intellectual property that makes things out of actions precisely so they can be collected, cataloged, measured, owned, and bought and sold.
The wrench that open licensing throws in the intellectual property machine has powerful and necessary effects, but for me, it’s now most important to refocus our attention on the goals we want our interventions to help us reach, and therefore, on the activity of our interventions rather than their products. This means we turn our focus away from the production and consumption of open artifacts and turn towards enabling and spreading the practices that themselves open knowledge.
So rather than focusing on questions like “Does this artifact permit me to retain/reuse/remix/revise/redistribute it?” I want to ask instead “How does retaining/reusing/remixing/revising/redistributing enable ongoing processes to open knowledge practices?”
Instead of measuring the value and openness of this or that project by the degree to which its artifacts match the 5R checklist, I want to enable and spread open knowledge practices, in part — but not exclusively — by asking if practices are or can be empowered by using the 5Rs as tools. Not all of the 5Rs are useful or necessary in every context.
For example, when folks are working to transition learning materials to open, it’s less important that every resource they use is fully “5R compliant” than it is that the transition itself generates an opening for the actual humans involved in teaching, learning and scholarship that can be sustained and improved.
We might even ask if there may be times when the 5Rs are not part of opening some specific knowledge practices at all. Food for thought.
So while I’ve seen some recent moves to define open educational practices as those that use 5R artifacts, I would reverse the priority and instead include the 5Rs as some of the tools in our open toolbelt.
Bonus question: Where were you when the 5th R was born?
While every Open Education conference I’ve attended has been fantastic, #OpenEd17 was by far the best yet for me. It wasn’t just that there were great presentations (there were), and it wasn’t just that so many great people were there (they were, tho some were missing), nor was it the way we connected beyond the event (we did) via Virtually Connecting, the remote participation during the How can we destroy the open education movement? session, or what we hope is a way to keep the conversations going annotating together. What made #OpenEd17 so great was the way that the conference, some fortuitous conversations, and my own thinking came together so powerfully in a way they never have before.
For me, the conference wound between valuable insights on the practical work of opening education (How do we do this? How do we do it better?) and equally valuable conversations about the open education community itself (Who are we? Who are we not? What are we doing? Why? Who speaks? Who isn’t speaking and should?). As someone who has done quite a bit of practical work opening education and who also cares deeply about our community and its future, I found both strands of great value.
Not everyone did though. I heard some folks say there was too much talk of ourselves — distracting us from the work we need to get done. I heard others saying that we won’t be able to fully realize our goals until we ensure our community itself enacts justice and equality — and that we aren’t there yet. Someone likened it to a debate between pragmatists and ideologues, wondering if one side or the other is ascendant.
I’m not too worried about this tension. It’s ok if some of us want to focus on this thing or that for a while. Others of us will be working on other stuff. As long as we are still fundamentally aligned and talking to each other, that’s how we get things done together.
During #OpenEd17, the Hewlett Foundation (thank you!) invited quite a few of us to talk about how they should focus their work in education. In the corner of the conversation I was in, we talked about some very worthy efforts to build and spread tools, content and practices. Without a doubt, those are the kind of things we are doing and we need to be doing. And yet, I think there’s something bigger to attend to. If we don’t, we run the risk of losing everything we’re working for.
We need to lift our heads up above our important, but local concerns and remember why we are opening education to begin with. It’s not just to produce and spread more content with full 5R permissions. It’s not just to deploy open pedagogies in classrooms. It’s not just to form a more perfect union at OpenEd. We are working together to make fundamental changes in the way knowledge is created and shared. We are working together to make these new knowledge practices change the way we all live for the better.
Where do we imagine the larger change we seek will take place?
Will we gather in the commons, fostering the practices that support our common needs?
Will we set up shop in the marketplace, working to develop mechanisms that harness capital to drive change?
Will we stalk the halls of government, electing and lobbying representatives to enact our policies?
Yes, we will do all those things, but above all, we need to make change happen in our public institutions — the schools, colleges, universities, and libraries where both knowledge and our civic life are created and shared. (One might also add the military and, sadly, prisons to this list.)
Why make change there? This is the most crucial part.
Yes, these public institutions are good places to open education. A lot of us are already doing that. What’s even more important is that these are the only institutions where we — the citizenry of our supposed participatory democracies — come together. Not every single one of us, but enough — what should be a large majority. And these institutions are being systematically devalued and dismantled by people with other agendas, opposed to ours. We need to focus our work where we come together not because alma mater or liberal education or well-ordered archives have some inherent value, but because it is where we come together that we make the bonds that hold us together. Without these places, we have nowhere to generate and transmit our common interests.
I come away from #OpenEd17 once again believing that our most compelling model is in British Columbia, led by our exemplary colleagues at BCCampus. BC seems closest to doing it right: demonstrating their commitment to their citizens by allocating substantial (tho I’m sure still insufficient) resources to do the right things with public ownership of the human and technical infrastructure necessary to generate and sustain real change.
We are starting to see similar models at work in the US, where states are allocating more resources to do this work. NY is maybe the best example (or maybe the example I know best), where significant new resources are coming together at SUNY and CUNY with the right kinds of people, practices and coordination to make real change.
I’m sure there’s still a lot more we could do and could do better in BC and NY, but these models have the characteristics I believe will have significant, lasting impact: sizable resources supporting open practices, housed in persistent, public institutions that foster varied local efforts, coordinate best practices, common needs, and infrastructure to scale change, and share it all back out as widely as possible.
So I would say to Hewlett as I would say to us all: pursue worthy, focused work, but pursue it in the context of building and supporting a public framework that we all own and can sustain our efforts over time for everyone. If we don’t build there, there will be no place left to build.
If any of this thinking resonates with you, credit goes to the conversations these people made possible. If you don’t like it, blame me alone. Alyson Indrunas, Ann Fiddler, Brenda Vollman, Cable Green, Francesca Carpenter, Jeremy Dean, Karen Cangialosi, Mark McBride, Mike Caulfield, MJ Bishop, Phil Hill, Remi Kalir, Richard Sebastian, Robin DeRosa, Sarah Faye Cohen, and Scott Robison.