‘Open squared’ – learning the lingo

Weller’s (2014) account of the history of open learning aligns it with the free and open source software movement.  However, it concerns me that this connection is overlooked when phrases like “open technologies” (Weller, 2014, p.94), “open tools” (Cronin, 2017, p.8) and “open online spaces” (Perryman, 2023, Step 2.13) are used.  In these contexts, the word ‘open’ conveys the idea of being outside of the physical and virtual boundaries of an educational institution, rather than the licensing of the software.  Examples of open educational practices (OEP), such as the use of Twitter [now X] (Weller, 2023), link the practices with Big Tech’s “killer apps” which have been associated with data exploitation and neglect of privacy amongst other abuses (Fowler, 2021).  The main exception to this is blog sites built on WordPress 🙂 .

In addition, resources for educators (for example, Ritter, 2021; Salmon, 2014) ignore ethical considerations in their guides on using social media services for different educational purposes.  The only nod to ethics I have been able to locate is the inclusion of Security and Privacy as the final S in the SECTIONS model designed to help inform the choice of technology (Bates, 2022, section 10.9).

This really troubles me. Do I really have to use Big Tech’s services in order to be an open educational practitioner and open learner?  Should I really expect ‘learners’ to use those services in order to connect with and interact with me?  Do we really need to use the same platforms to socialise with family and friends; educate; and, learn?  Are these spaces actually conducive to learning with all the noisy marketing and monetised posts?

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