The Open-Education Force is Strong

Unfortunately, so is the keep-it-private-so-I-can-make-money force.

Larry Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, discusses the battle the internet has created: read-write (RW) versus read-only (RO) culture. Much like the transmission model of teaching, consumers used to be excluded from creating (and recreating) content.  A battle over control– quickly erupting after broadcasting offered alternative access to music– continues to this day.

I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the insanely cool things that people are creating now, but it’s remarkable.  The school I teach at, Melville Comprehensive, creates lip dubs using popular songs that provide an opportunity for the entire student body to interact and create something together. The internet has provided a new opportunity to revive the RW culture. People from around the world are able to generate content and create things out of desire rather than greed.  Creating and recreating content has become a new literacy for this generation and it has potential to do some amazing things.

Lessig mentions how laws are trying to curtail the use of these new technologies. One of my students had their public service announcement taken down from YouTube because it used a commercial song in it.

Just think about this for a second– my students wanted to create an advertisement to educate and empower youth. My students wanted to create a video that called for people to act and be a part of change. Because of laws, which deem a clip of audio more important than this message, my students voices are drowned. What kind of message is this sending students? “Hey! We want people to be agents of change but the laws about music access are more important than that” (*cough* dominant narrative and *cough* $businesses$). Man, I really hope we get over this sickness soon.

Many artists have rebelled against the restrictions put on their music and this is precisely what Lessig suggests needs to happen.  Competition can achieve a balance between private and public.  Artists and businesses need to embrace a change because the age of prohibition is not stopping kids from using commercial content, but rather creating a world where ignoring laws is normalized.

The open-access mentality, and the battle to keep things restricted, extends to more than music. Teachers are restricted by law to use certain resources.  I don’t know if you have noticed the price of textbooks right now, but this can be pretty expensive. It also makes information stagnant and outdated.  Open education gives teachers and students information that is constantly being updated and adapted by people to improve student learning.

Anyone who knows me in the teaching profession will not hesitate to ask for my resources.  One of my favourite parts of this job is creating resources and lessons that are inquiry-based and integrate technology.  Give me a few hours with a new novel and I will have some innovative ideas to engage students in literature. I work hard and have a lot of pride for what I create, but I will never keep a resource to myself.  It would go against the very reason I make resources to begin with: to help students engage in learning. I am currently trying to organize all of my resources so I can share them on my blog. I believe this mentality of open access should also be applied to higher-level education.

Danah Boyd urges scholars to stop giving their research to academic publishers. The purpose of research, for the majority of academics, is to help other people learn from what they discover.  However, the audience for private journals is depleting, which means only a small amount of people will be affected by what scholars write. Boyd describes the cycle of academia which discourages open-access: Scholars who may disagree with publishing their work in private databases may continue to so they can advance their careers and be deemed #legit. She also provides insight on how to break this cycle and encourage open education.

  • Koskie AKA future “young punk scholar” OUT!



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