New to the SCN: Equity and Consent in Open Education

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of our first CFP (fall 2020). A second CFP was issued in May ‘21 (closed in early July), and a third call will be issued toward the end of 2021.

Today we’re excited to share “Equity and Consent in Open Education” (available in the SCN OER Commons Hub as well as in Google Drive), by Natalie Hill and Jessica Dai. Natalie and Jessica created case studies and teaching materials that ask participants to consider how our advocacy for OER and related open practices might have disparate impacts, particularly on those with less intersectional power and privilege. Here’s Natalie and Jessica to introduce their content:

“Equity and Consent in Open Education” aims to foster culturally responsive and equity-minded LIS professionals who are better equipped to engage in open education with students, scholars, and community members from historically underrepresented backgrounds and/or with marginalized identities. The lesson plan includes a slide deck, three case studies, and discussion questions to guide students toward equity-centered practices. Though originally developed for graduate Library and Information Science (LIS) students, the lesson plan can and should be adapted for different audiences and contexts.

Openness is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Though many open practitioners discuss and leverage open education as a means of democratizing education and information access, we must remember that learners and scholars face harm when we adopt openness with a paternalistic mindset. Working in the open is not without its risks, and these risks manifest differently for individuals based on their identities, background, and status. Keeping this reality in mind, LIS professionals need to leverage feminist and critical pedagogical frameworks to build informed consent into our open educational practices to best serve all of our communities, especially the communities that have historically been excluded out of participation. With this contribution to the Scholarly Communication Notebook, we hope that LIS instructors center equity and consent earlier with their students, so they are better equipped to navigate these situations as practitioners.

We intentionally selected openly published pieces—and where possible—we selected pieces written by scholars of color. As a framework for thinking about social justice in open education, Lambert’s (2018) article asks us to integrate the three principles of redistributive justice, recognitive justice, and representational justice into our open educational practices. Open education is not just about saving students money (redistributive justice) and we must reckon with ways to prioritize the inclusion of experiences of marginalized groups in our educational materials (recognitive justice), especially as told by members of those marginalized groups (representational justice). Bali‘s (2020) chapter challenges readers to think beyond paternalistic and colonial mindsets that frame open education through technical concerns around licenses and permissions rather than as an endeavor to improve the human experience. Though an OER may have remixing and revising permissions, what happens when abled educators continue to claim social justice as a value without taking the appropriate steps to make their OER accessible? Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit) and Kostelecky’s (Zuni Pueblo) 2021 chapter use tribal critical race theory (TribCrit) to challenge information practices that historically and currently exclude Native and Indigenous ways of knowing. The authors use selected tenets of TribCrit such as “Colonization is endemic to society” and “Indigenous people have a desire to obtain and forge tribal sovereignty, tribal autonomy, self-determination, and self-identification” to analyze three Zuni projects. Orozco’s (2020) book chapter offers a practical example of applying informed open pedagogy in an eight week credit-bearing library course. As students collaboratively create a zine for their final project, they encounter and reflect on their engagement with all six frames in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. All of these pieces have shaped the development of this lesson plan, so we thank all of the authors for pushing the conversations about what it means to be educators and library practitioners working to make libraries the social justice institution we claim it to be.

In alignment with open educational principles, we encourage instructors to modify Equity and Consent in Open Education to local and instructional contexts. We ask that you engage with any changes to this lesson in the same way we are asking students to engage, i.e. with critical, ethical, and equity-informed lenses.

About the Authors

Natalie Hill is an Instructional Designer with the University of New England. She is dedicated to open education advocacy and increasing representation of historically underrepresented groups in teaching, learning, and research materials. Most recently, she served as the Open Education Librarian with the University of Texas Libraries. She holds an MLIS from Drexel University and a BA in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. Find Natalie @ChillNatalie on Twitter.

Jessica Dai (she/her) is the Equity and Open Education Librarian at West Virginia University. She has an MLIS from the University of South Carolina, an MA in Communication Studies from West Virginia University, and a BA in English from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her professional interests include anti-oppression in LIS, open education, feminist and critical pedagogies, and the intersections in between. Find Jessica @ralphratheriled on Twitter.