Question #5: What do you think is the biggest benefit of Open Education and what do you think is missing?
It is difficult to say what the biggest benefit is, but it makes me think about the conversation around the textbook affordability piece of Open Education, and the desire to move beyond affordability. I see both as valid arguments. Yes, there’s so much more to Open than textbook affordability but that’s not to say that the affordability piece of it isn’t enough. That still is a really big benefit. The biggest benefit of Open Education is that there isn’t just one thing, there are so many benefits. There’s textbook affordability and free access to materials, the ability to retain content, and the impacts on teaching and learning, like the ability to be more flexible and customizable, increasing engagement in learning, Open Pedagogy. It can be all of those things.
As far as what’s missing, and this might not fit the question, but what’s missing is balance. I don’t necessarily mean work-life balance, but that’s similar to what I’m getting at. There’s so much enthusiasm for Open – which is fantastic – and there’s so much passion from people around what we’re doing – again, fantastic – but it doesn’t have to be your whole life. It is similar to what Fobazi Ettarh said in Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves. Vocational Awe is a term coined by Fobazi Ettarh. It has to do with the idea that librarianship is a calling and does so much good. But Fobazi’s point with this concept is that librarianship or libraries are beyond critique because they’re such “good” institutions. It makes it harder as an individual to set reasonable boundaries or advocate for yourself, or be fairly compensated or treated as an employee. There’s a sense of “look at all this amazing good we do through Open Education” and having to live up to that. But can’t I just be a person trying to do my job well? Can I do my work and not try to save the world?
I don’t want to go around being evangelical about OER. It isn’t the end-all be-all. That influences how I talk to faculty or other people on campus. If they’re not into the idea, that’s okay. Again, I’m not saying any of this is not worthy of being celebrated or not a good thing or doesn’t have good outcomes. Obviously there are good outcomes that come from Open. But when people ask me, “How do you talk to faculty who are resistant?” I tell them, “They can be resistant – they probably have good reasons to be.” I won’t tell faculty, “No, you need to use OER, I’m super excited about it and you should be, too.”