Equity in OER Publishing by Josie Gray
Press play on the following media player to listen to the podcast version of this chapter or read the text below.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explore my exhibit. I will be using this final section to summarize everything I’ve talked about so far and talk about some potential directions my project may take me.
This section includes
Open resources ≠ equitable resources
With my major research project, I want to look critically at OER publishing from an equity lens. In my experience supporting OER publication and managing the B.C. Open Textbook Collection, it is clear the many ways that OER can easily reproduce inequities found in traditional commercial textbook publishing and academia.
Many OER that exist are inaccessible to students with disabilities, content is not necessarily any more inclusive, and as materials designed for teaching, the pedagogical effectiveness of OER varies greatly. When looking at these issues, it becomes easier to understand how resources design, content, and pedagogy influence each other. If content is inaccessible, racist, sexist, or transphobic, it doesn’t matter how good the pedagogical approach is. And thinking critically about resource design can make an OER easier for students to learn from.
In the section on OER Content, I discussed criticisms targeting OER advocacy efforts that argue uncritically that free content on its own will make global education more equitable. This is an important reminder. Free content probably won’t save the world, and free content does not mean good or relevant content. But content that is accessible, flexible, and inclusive in a radical way could have a real impact on those most marginalized in the Canadian post-secondary education system. But that affect won’t happen just by hoping it does. It needs to be intentional.
Questions and more questions
So how do we get there when OER creation is decentralized and largely reliant on the will of ambitious instructors who have the time and job security to work on OER projects?
Ultimately, this will mean looking at the wider tools, processes, and practices found in the publication of OER and asking questions like, who is able to write OER? How does the technology available affect the resources being created? What strategies could be used to intervene in areas that are not working? How can the open licences on OER be leveraged to make OER better?
I am definitely not the first person to ask any of these questions. But they are complex questions that have complicated answers, and they are where I am starting.
Thank you again for your attention! Creating this exhibit was a real challenge, but it also helped me organize the many ideas that have been swirling around in my head for the past six months. If you have thoughts or suggestions, please do get in touch. And if you have thoughts or feedback on the design of this exhibit, I would also appreciate that. This was my first real foray into audio, and I am curious how my exhibit could have been more accessible. My contact information is at the beginning of my exhibit. And if you think what I am working on will be interesting to others, please do share. Bye!