Reflections on a Busy Fall

The OER+Scholcomm team has been busy this fall! In early October, Maria and Josh joined 900+ OER advocates at the Open Education Conference in Niagara Falls, NY (Will was unfortunately waylaid by the remnants of Hurricane Michael moving up through the Southeast). Josh gave a lightning talk on our LIS faculty research, and Maria and Josh led a session on lowering barriers to participation in OER creation by focusing on granularity: small-scale projects. Will attended OpenCon in Toronto a few weeks later where he led an active discussion on the hidden curriculum of scholarly communication, and then immediately joined Josh and Maria in South Carolina for The Charleston Conference, where we ate all the oysters led a full-day preconference and hosted a “lively discussion” session.

Rather than intense breakdowns and analysis of each event (you can read some excellent examples of that, from Lillian Rigling at Open Ed and from Monica Brown at OpenCon), we wanted to share a few reflections across the events:

  1. DEI and related critiques are on the minds of many, and for good reason. Jess Mitchell’s OE keynote was a fantastic example of this, calling out many of the excellent sessions by our peers that centered on social justice and critical reflection. Jess asked us to critically reflect on who we’re leaving behind or excluding, even as we’re celebrating our successes. OpenCon made these issues the central theme of the event, with amazing speakers, hands-on workshops, and so many opportunities to meet and talk with new people that the event left one open scientist literally speechless!
  2. Like minds; we heard from colleagues who are doing related or adjacent work to ours. Lots of folks are thinking about practitioner-driven training for librarians, particularly in emerging or otherwise under-addressed areas of LIS curricula, and the best ways of identifying and addressing the gaps. This is really exciting! We’re not thinking in a vacuum, but as part of a growing movement to be proactive in identifying curricular gaps and filling them as practitioners. Check out “Everything Nobody Taught You About Library Acquisitions Work” by Lindsay Cronk and Rachel Fleming (mega bonus points for playing Bikini Kill to warm up the crowd in Charleston). We can’t wait to see what grows out of these spaces and projects and to discover the opportunities to collaborate and support each other.
  3. Community-owned infrastructure; it’s increasingly obvious to many that openness entails more than “5R” permissions. Along with the recognition that issues of inclusion and equity are critical to openness, the open community is exploring how openness can be grounded in a decentralized practice and space that empowers all participants. Steel Wagstaff and Billy Meinke spoke about this at OpenEd18 in the context of student data and open education, citing Chris Gilliard’s call to recognize open as freedom from “surveillance, extraction, and monetization of data.” As open education wrestles with the rise of for-profit services built around OER and Elsevier is developing a business model as an analytics company, this vision of openness built on decentralization and digital inclusion is increasingly vital to supporting the agency and autonomy at the heart of open values. As Robin DeRosa observed in her recent keynote for “Making Knowledge Public,” at the 2018 President’s Dream Colloquium at Simon Fraser University:

“open is most centrally about designing infrastructure from the perspective of our publics. This is not about openly licensing any one particular artifact. This is not about saving students $100 on a textbook here or there. This is about taking a stand for an ecosystem powered by infrastructure that actively strengthens the public good [and creating] open ecosystems in government, data, science, research, education, and software that are contextual, tied to community need, and reflective of the diversity of the real people who depend on our universities to do good work and improve the condition of the world.”

As we continue our own work on open, we are excited to make the OER+ScholComm project not just an openly-licensed resource or collection of resources, but the locus of an active, inclusive, and empowered community of practice for teaching and transforming scholarly communication and related areas. We’ll be talking more about this project in the spring, but we have great aspirations for the project as a model for openness that reflects the values of inclusion, the diversity of our communit[ies] of practice, and as infrastructure that goes beyond any single author or publisher to empower everyone to control their identities and share their stories on their own terms.

Good luck wrapping up your fall/year. Reach out to us if you have comments/questions/feedback.

High fives to everyone – Maria, Will, and Josh