Opening the Citizenship Commons

As a part of participating in the #OpenEdMOOC, we’ve been asked to reflect on copyright, the public domain, and the commons and I’m inspired to link these topics to the thinking I’ve been doing on opening knowledge practices (OKP).

One of the fundamental assumptions I’ve been making is that OKP must be centered in public institutions like schools, colleges, universities, research groups, libraries, and maybe in some cases, nonprofits. Why? Because — at least in the US — only public institutions have both the track records to house persistent practices and are mostly aligned with the values that infuse OKP — in their missions if not always in their practices. For-profit, commercial organizations may certainly make invaluable contributions to OKP, but have not shown themselves to have the lifespans nor sufficient alignment with OKP values to be primary stewards.

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Why Open Matters

There are many efforts to “open” education and scholarship: open access, open data, open educational resources, open licensing, open pedagogy, open scholarship, open science, open source, and more. But why are we opening all these things?

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Who needs digital skills?

Everyone, that’s who.

A central premise of opening knowledge practices (OKP) is that everyone benefits when people augment their literacies, skills, identities and communities with digital practices. I’ll say it again: everyone benefits — not just practicing individuals, but society as a whole. Just like everyone benefits when people learn to read and write.

So OKP is more than yet another call for technology education or job training, it’s a call to open knowledge practices as widely as possible, for people of all ages, in all stages of life or lines of work, whatever their existing literacies, skills, identities and communities.

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