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Enacting the Value of Openness by Sharing #OER19

(and by doing ‘free’ labour).

This post presents the script of my #OER19 presentation and curates links to the recording and to the slides.

The Script

Oh, it was a 20 min presentation, so it’s gonna take 20 mins or so to read this post.

Networked Participatory Scholarship

My research is into open educational practices within the context of networked participatory scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012).

In this presentation, I’ll outline how I conceptualised openness and how I utilised the idea of selfOER that Suzan Koseoglu and Maha Bali proposed at OER16. And how I used it as an interview prompt for discussion about open practices and the relationship with open educational resources. I’ll then go on to outline how my analysis and interpretation is progressing, highlighting the role of sharing and ‘little’ OERs (Weller, 2010) in open practices before going on to consider how value is created and the nature of labour that this involves.

Openness in Practice: SelfOER

Coining the term selfOER, Koseoglu & Bali proposed that understanding of open educational resources should be widened from one that primarily regards OER as openly licensed content to include individuals in the learning community. That is, to see individuals, or their practice, as open educational resources. They contend that an individual, or the self, and their practice can become an OER via the ‘process and products’ of open scholarship. Essentially, this is the connections, or relationships, that are formed and the resources that are produced. Within this, they also contend that many individuals hold openness as ‘a worldview’ or are open as ‘a way of being’ and that this is manifested in their practice.

The idea of openness as a way of being really resonated with me. What’s more, I was certain that this would resonate with others, so I used the idea of selfOER to facilitate interviews with 11 participants. Relative to their own practice, participants were asked to comment on the particular framing of openness and the depiction of practice within the idea of selfOER and to present a selection of texts, or resources, that exemplified their openness. This ‘show and tell’ method proved a very useful way to surface aspects of open practice, particularly the meanings that participants attribute to it and the relationship between practice and resources. And, yes, the concept of selfOER resonated. All 11 participants, for a whole host of different reasons, said openness as a worldview, or as a way of being, was how they framed their practice. And for many, openness directly equates to sharing. 

Openness as a ‘Way of Being’ or ‘Worldview’

Participants said openness for them was:

  • The human element
  • Sharing
  • Identity
  • Being open to others
  • It’s about life
  • It’s about freedom

Openness as Entangled Phenomenon

However, before I move on, I have to say that I was really challenged in the early stages of my research with questions like how does the self become an open educational resource and how might practice be seen as a resource? And also, the nature of the relationship between discourse and materiality, which came out of my MRes study. To resolve this I adopted Karen Barad’s idea of a ‘phenomenon’, which derives from quantum physics. Instead of focusing on separate entities or agencies with inherent boundaries and properties it means that openness is seen as a phenomenon in which there are no pre-determined boundaries between the individual self, the resources produced and technology. Consequently, within my study, openness is regarded as a single phenomenon, it is a process, or a doing, that is enacted in practice, material-discursive practice. It is the entanglement of meaning and matter, of human and non-human actors.

My study is an interpretive case study that essentially seeks to describe openness and its distributed nature.

Big and ‘Little‘ OER

At this point, I need to highlight the sorts of texts, or resources, that participants presented as exemplifying their openness, and that they share in practice.

Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) regard open, or networked participatory scholarship, as referring to teaching and research practices that espouse openness, and this takes three particular forms: (1) open access publishing, (2) open education, including OER and open teaching, and (3) networked participation. Participants referred to all these forms of scholarship and the texts, or resources, they presented covered this spectrum, but what was most noticeable was that everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, positioned their openness in relation to networked participation. This was either exemplified by their blog, their Twitter, an online community that they belonged to, or a combination of similar such things. Flickr and Instagram, even.

It seems that the aspect of social media and networked participation adds a certain vibrancy to openness. That is, it adds the human element. I was really struck by just how much meaning, purpose, desire and support, or care, was on display.

There was just so much life!! So much humanity!!

As such, the majority of texts, or resources, presented were not typical institutional OERs. They were what Martin Weller refers to as ‘little’ OER: individually produced, low cost resources that don’t have explicit educational aims or learning outcomes. Consequently, their use can be unpredictable and in unpredicted contexts.

Broadening the definition of OER to include ‘little OER’ now means that we can consider a continuum of resources. But, this begs the question, how little can a ‘little OER’ be, and what exactly is viable as an OER?

Big and Little and Human(?) OER

Back in 2006 Stephen Downes asked whether people could be considered open educational resources. And since then a number of people have asserted that yes they can.

“Can a guest lecturer be an OER?” “Any resource that supports education is, at this point, is under consideration.” (Downes, 2006)

“I am a human OER” (Funes, 2014)

“I am an OER” (MacNeill, 2015) at OER15

“We are all an OER” (Sallah, 2018) at OER18                                                                                      

Sharing: Boundaries of Sharing in Network Culture

When researching a phenomenon, Scott & Orlikowski (2014) ask ‘what does the phenomenon depend on?’ ‘What drives practice?’ Well, overwhelmingly, and no surprise, openness is enabled by sharing.

Kennedy points out that although sharing is a central concept of networked culture, its conceptual boundaries with other social theories of exchange haven’t been established, nor has the concept been adequately critiqued. Moreover, there are few empirical studies of how sharing is practiced when mediated by social media.

Added to this, the notion of sharing presents many possible meanings. It relates to the distribution or division of physical resources, as well as to the sharing of an experience or the disclosure of personal information. Goods shared can be material or immaterial.  And immaterial goods can be intellectual or affective.

Consequently, sharing then has both social and economic dimensions, which are counterpoised in networked culture. A condition in which opposing forces are equal to one another and have balancing or contrasting effects.

Typically, sharing in networked culture is explained in relation to gift giving and its feature of reciprocity. Across the board, in some way or another, participants in my study equated openness with reciprocity.

Explaining sharing in terms of gift giving and reciprocity distinguishes it from commodity exchange.

Sharing as a Demand, NOT a Gift.

But, do you know what? It turns out that there’s no discrete theory of sharing. Following the work of Marcel Mauss (1954), sharing has conventionally been explained as a sub-category of gift exchange theory. However, anthropologists, such as Widlok (2016), who mainly study hunter-gatherer societies have a host of empirical evidence that refutes sharing as being reciprocal.

Gifting involves giving, receiving and reciprocating. As such, it’s a two-way exchange between two people. It’s about establishing and strengthening social bonds, as in kinship relations. Sharing on the other hand is not reciprocal because although you might receive something through sharing, you’re not obligated to give something back to the same person. Sharing then is a one way transfer that’s multi-directional. It’s not about strengthening social bonds per se; it’s about enabling, indeed maximising, access opportunities all round. It’s an economic mode of transfer that enables others to access what is needed, or is of intrinsic value. Sharing provides an alternative to both gift-exchange and market exchange.

What’s more, sharing’s not initiated by the giver; rather, it’s prompted by the receiver in the form of a demand. This demand is made on the basis of individuals, humans, sharing needs derived from the fact that they share the experience of life itself and that they recognise this. The demand can be spoken or silent. This silent demand is founded on bodily presence. In the context of human sociality, bodily presence by itself constitutes a demand, a demand for being acknowledged as a human being with legitimate needs. For example, in anthropology, it’s frequently observed that a person who silently positions themselves next to a fire or a cooking pot will most likely be given something by those tending to it. Online, bodily presence equates to embodied presence and the invisible ‘other’, or the ‘lurker’.

Sharing practices are established through bodily co-presence, but they also involve communication, or speech acts, to structure the process. Plus, they also depend on the relationship, or affordance, of the thing being shared, as well as being influenced by the nature, or materiality, of the physical space involved.

The Internet is fundamentally a sharing technology. Its surveilling properties enable us to imagine the watching presence of others; its infrastructure facilitates efficient resource sharing and the addition of social media enables the social dimension of communication. The upshot is that the Internet enables both the ‘sharing out’ of resources and the ‘sharing in’ of life’s experiences.

Seen like this, and in contrast to gift giving, sharing is about creating opportunities and gaining access to what’s needed or valued. It’s not a matter of obligation and the imperative to reciprocate. Rather, it’s about the “opportunity to request” (Widlok, 2016, p.80), which means that the initative is with the potential recipient. It enables them to request what they need, things that are not already out there or easily located.

Sharing is a way to achieve one’s needs, or reach one’s goals, through the help of others. It’s the recognition that fellow human beings can provide what’s needed and the power that’s asserted based on the recognition that we share life and understand what others require.

Sharing in Open Practices

Verbal demand – Given this understanding of sharing in relation to openness we can see that when Pearl says “I ask for help” that we’re not talking about gift giving because people don’t generally ask to be given gifts. She’s demanding access to what she needs. Pearl was struggling with an aspect of her research so, in order to get help, she set up a Facebook support group to get the help she needed. Now others can join the group and similarly ask for help.

“I ask for help.” “Me myself, […] I’ve needed help from other people, so I’ve been relying on others’ self as OER to help me.” Pearl (anon)

Silent demand – Then there’s the silent demand from the invisible, imagined, other. It was noticeable just how many participants were conscious of having an audience, and the possibility that there were people out there with unfulfilled needs or who’d find something they had to be of value. They hoped their posts, or their comments, or their resources would be useful to others.

“Maybe one sentence I’ve said somewhere in the blog will be useful to someone somewhere in the world.” Gabi Witthaus

I’m quite conscious is this going to be of use to somebody else.” Judy (anon)

Sharing life – It was also noticeable just how much the texts or resources presented exhibited personal or social aspects. That is, affective goods. There was such a lot of ‘lived experience’ on display, relating to both professional and personal life. Jeff (Merrell) narrates his course design decisions, Sheila (MacNeill) blogs about her “struggles” with openness, Rebecca (Hogue) shared her breast cancer story and now researches this area, and Laura (Gogia) openly documents, or narrates, aspects of her personal life and professional practice .

Creating opportunities – As we can now appreciate, sharing is about opportunity, the opportunity to request access to things we need or solicit opportunities for ourselves. Laura puts her finger on it when she says, the interrelated practice of sharing and openness is partially controlled and partially serendipitous. Either way, she says it’s about creating opportunities for yourself. She gives the example of provoking a discussion on Twitter by making a deliberately controversial statement. The exchange resulted in her being invited to contribute to a podcast.

“It’s partially controlled; it’s partially serendipitous; it’s very active, but also it’s creating opportunities for yourself.” Laura Gogia


People participate in communities and networks because there’s value in it. If people don’t get value, they won’t participate.

In the first instance, value is derived in the immediate term, from the experience of participation itself. This can simply be through connecting with others, asking a question, passing on information or providing feedback. Or just being with others who understand your challenges can also be a source of support and motivation.

On the other hand, value, in the form of knowledge capital is something that can be realised later, and this can take a number of forms. Participating in communities and networks helps develop an individual’s knowledge, skills and competencies. That is, it develops their human capital.

Social relations and connections are also a form of knowledge capital, and the cultivation of one’s reputation is a social achievement that can also operate as a knowledge resource.

Undoubtedly, open practices contribute to a reputational economy. Amongst the participants there was no shortage of benefits derived from cultivating one’s reputation: invitations to speak at conferences, for example. Reputation translates into a form of exchange value, as does human capital.

Value of Open Practices and the Labour Market

However, it’s the role of use value that intrigues me in all of this, and commodification. It seems that open sharing practices are built around the concept of value as use and that this helps foster the way in which value is created.

Scholars such as Benkler (2006) and Bauwens (2005) argue that the peer2peer sharing economy is founded on the promise of use value over exchange value and a partnership between the peer economy and the market.

However, I’m not sure how this works exactly. We’ve already acknowledged that once something like a little OER is ‘out there’ its use is unpredictable in unpredicted contexts. It could easily become a commodity.  

Moreover, as Kennedy (2016) points out, the exchange of information data and immaterial labour that constitute open sharing practices gets transformed into a commodity to be exchanged. Indeed, Audrey Watters (2018) has recently highlighted the aspect of value and the “invisibility” of labour in open practices.

The relationship of openness to the labour market and the precarity of higher education was a noticeable feature in my study. 5 out of 11 participants related to it in one way or another. Maeve and Libby acknowledged that they could see the benefit of sharing and open practices in order to secure employment in precarious circumstances. And Gabi, said she was appreciative of the identity and support that open scholarship afforded her when she was in-between institutions.

When I’ve been on short term contracts I also was able to see the benefits of sharing practice so that people […] could Google me and they could see that I was motivated and interested.” Maeve (anon)

I’ve managed to keep myself permanently employed in a field that moves very very fast and is very very precarious.” Libby (anon)

“Being an open scholar gives me an identity that’s not tied to an institution and I’m very appreciative of that because I can quite imagine a scenario if I’d been in a very closed environment and then was suddenly without an institutional home, I’d be feeling very isolated right now.” Gabi Witthaus

Invisible ‘Free’ Labour and Biopower

It’s important to analyse what’s not included in material-discursive practices. What’s excluded matters because it remains in play as a constitutive element. And guess what’s not included in the discourse of open? Labour!! Overwhelmingly, the emphasis is on the product, not the producer. Labour is downplayed and labelled as ‘creativity’.

Considering that networked participatory scholarship requires the construction and performance of identities, which are essentially established through a range of strategies involving some aspect of our life, or our “bios”, I’m drawn to Foucault’s idea of biopower, a disciplinary form of power over life itself, and how this seems to have become appropriated into the workplace for productive purposes. Moreover, how sharing seems to feed into this, considering that we’re practically compelled to share as we recognise our needs in others.

Under the term biocracy, Fleming (2013) highlights how productivity is increasingly dependent on social and personal aspects of human life for its value-creating qualities. Much of this ‘tacit’ dimension can’t be sourced or nurtured inside the institution. It’s not just a matter of formal learning and explicit codified knowledge anymore. Value is increasingly derived from aspects of tacit knowledge that’s learnt socially or informally. Moreover, it’s generally developed beyond the formal remuneration process and as such it takes on the form of ‘free work’. Free work, or free labour, in the biocratic academy harnesses our ‘free time’; and it relies on our autonomy and ability to self-organise and our drive for self-development.

What’s at Stake? The Social Commons

So, why does this matter? What’s at stake? Because it represents the enclosure of social value. It’s the social commons that’s at stake. It’s the onslaught of the social factory (Hardt and Negri, 2000).

After transcribing participant interviews I wrote in my notes the words “total capture”, and I’ve been trying to understand what this means ever since. 

Enclosing social value and the capture of the social commons forms the basis of neoliberal human capital theory (Hanlon, 2012). That is, we’re no longer just participants in an economic exchange relationship, rather we’re the living embodiment of capital.

Sharing practices operationalise, or CAPTURE, value production from forms of socialisation founded on a communistic nature. Utilising our life, or our bios, the diffusion of sharing practices promotes the systemic integration of ephemeral forms of sociality into value creation chains.

Consequently,  scholars are beginning to see sharing as the indication of a broader process of re-socialising economic exchange. That is, market exchange, or commodification, is becoming increasingly embedded in society in new and antagonising ways (Pais and Provasi, 2015).

Life is Sharing

Yes, indeed, life is sharing, but to what extent is life capital? That is the question.

And to what extent is the self an open education resource, or simply a human resource?

Because, as Maeve (anon) concludes:

“Ultimately, I am the resource.”

Thank You.

I hope I’ve explained my research clearly, and my concerns.

References: available here
Image: Jonathan Saavedra on Unsplash
Note: a number of research participants chose to waive their right to anonymity.

Body Combat: Metaphor for Open Ed Practice & Critical Advocacy #OER17 #101openstories

Just wondering what’s body combat? Click here

I’m really looking forward to attending #OER17 next week and participating in the conversation about openness in education, particularly as there’s an emphasis on critical perspectives. The conference theme is ‘The Politics of Open’.

This couldn’t be better for me, as I’ve recently set my cap at doing a PhD study that takes a critical look at aspects of open educational practice (OEP). Although I’ve followed the event over the last few years, it’ll be the first time that I’ve attended in person. However, I don’t think I’ll feel like a total ‘newbie’ because to some extent I already feel part of the ‘open community’. Notwithstanding the fact that I’m based in IET in The Open University and four fellow PhD colleagues will be presenting, plus the entire OER Hub team, also based in IET, it’s because, as an open learner, I’ve already blogged, Tweeted and hung out with a number of individuals who are attending the conference. Plus, there’s so much pre-conference interactive engagement on social media that I’ve been introduced to even more like minded ‘open peeps’. There’s a creative media challenge, questions and hashtags and, get this, the keynote speaker, Maha Bali, has been preparing her keynote in the open through a series of blog posts, which she tantalizing pulled together in an #OpenEdSig webinar earlier this week. I strongly urge anyone to watch it as it serves as a REALLY powerful example of what it means for someone to be open ‘as a way of being’, and to engage in open, networked and participatory scholarship.

Which kind of brings me to my research interest, as well as nicely setting up this post as a contribution to the #101openstories project that launched this week. The project invites personal stories about openness, the aim of which is to

help us all get to know each other, share ideas and engage in conversations and identify opportunities to support each other and collaborate. These stories will help us learn with and from each other and grow individually AND collectively.

My open story is that I was hooked through participation in the whole cMOOC phenomenon, to which this blog stands testament. I’m wholeheartedly a product of innovative open educators who dreamed, and dared, to open up learning for all on the web, well, all like me any way 🙂 As such, I feel indebted to these educators and to the network that formed part of this experience, such that I’m interested to learn more about the Open Education and the OER movement and to advocate on its behalf. However, I must essentially be something of a skeptic because I always need to examine things critically, that is, to consider matters of power and to look for hidden assumptions. I know open education is contested, with it increasingly being seen as a response to pressures of neoliberal economics and austerity (Jones 2015). MOOcs being a case in point. Like Martin Weller (2014) says, there’s a ‘Battle for Open‘. Indeed, OER17 is a response to this.

The idea of openness as ‘a way of being’ is very appealing to me. I mean, there’s just so many people out there who seem to approach teaching and learning in this way – sharing openly and transparently as a means of democratizing knowledge. So when I recently discovered the concept of self_OER put forward by Maha Bali and Suzan Koseoglu at OER16, and its references to openness as a ‘way of being’, I was immediately intrigued, especially as they posed the question: how might the processes and products of open scholarship align/intersect with the goals of open education? It’s exactly this that I hope to take up. However, baring in mind that openness is contested, which is evident in the battle metaphor, and which, to be honest, seems to imply institutions, corporations and generally all things big and organized, I was wondering if a metaphor that specifically speaks to the individual open practitioner might be more helpful, body combat!! That’s right, a martial arts inspired mind set.

I recently started going to body combat fitness classes (no, that’s not me in the video) and I can’t help thinking that as open educators and researchers we might benefit from developing our practice, metaphorically, along these lines. Release the inner warrior to fight off the co-option of open, or ‘open washing’.

As Stephen Brookfield (1998) says, critically reflective practice

makes us more aware of those submerged and unacknowledged power dynamics that infuse all practice settings. It also helps to detect hegemonic assumptions – assumptions that we think are in our own best interests but that actually work against us in the long term (p. 197).

Open education has been critiqued for not engaging critically with aspects of power (Bayne et al., 2015; Knox, 2013), and where it has engaged, it has tended to focus on hegemonic aspects of sovereign power, and failed to take account of disciplinary aspects, or ‘technologies of the self’, whereby individuals constitute themselves within and through systems of power, which might seem natural but are either enabled or constrained by the techniques available in the associated discourse (Foucault, 1998). You can see why I’m intrigued by the the concept of the self as OER. The research I’m formulating is not to intended  to expose contradictions and pull the rug from under the feet of those engaged in open education, far from it, rather it’s to suggest something akin to collective self-examination, or a SWOT analysis, one that takes account of all aspects of power. I’m interested to become a better informed open practitioner and to advance the ‘true’ goals of open education. Therefore, extending the martial arts metaphor, I see critical investigation and a body combat mindset as presenting a way of becoming a ‘black belt’ advocate for open education. What do you think?

I look forward to participating in the conversation at OER17 next week and to developing my research ideas further.


  • Bayne, S., Knox, J. and Ross, J. (2015) ‘Open education: the need for a critical approach’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 247–250.
  • Brookfield, S. (1998) ‘Critically reflective practice’, Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 197–205.
  • Foucault, Michel, et al. (1988) Technologies of the self: A seminar with Michel Foucault. Univ of Massachusetts Press.
  • Jones, C. (2015) ‘Openness, technologies, business models and austerity’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 328–349.
  • Knox, J. (2013) ‘Five critiques of the open educational resources movement’, Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 18, no. 8, pp. 821–832.
  • Koseoglu, S. and Bali, M. (2016) ‘The Self as an Open Educational Resource [1091]’, #OER16 [Online]. Available at
  • Weller, M. (2014) Battle for Open, Ubiquity Press [Online]. Available at

The #OEP jigsaw pieces are out of the box, or is that #selfOER?

There’s nothing for it! I’m gonna have to blog messy – confused and conflated as I resume my passion for open learning and rejoin the conversation on all things open and education. Well, actually, as I try and firm up a PhD research proposal and, fingers crossed, get down to the business of carrying it out – as an open researcher, possibly.

I’m a full-time research student funded on a 1+3 deal, which means that I had to undertake a Research Master’s before embarking on the PhD proper. The good news is I passed my MRes. I received final confirmation just last week. The thing is, although I gained valuable skills, I think the exercise dealt me something of a curve-ball with regards to my relationship with open learning. No, what I really mean is learning in the open. It served to funnel me into an institutional programme of prescribed assignments and to undertake a dissertation at breakneck speed. There was no time to learn outside of these parameters and, once the programme had commenced, no time to reflect on the implications of decisions made for pragmatic reasons. Any way, I’m now in a position to reflect on my experience and to plan the way ahead – back on the open road 🙂

Originally, I responded to a call for research proposals under the theme of ‘Literacies for Learning in a Digital Age’. I proposed something relating to literacies and professional learning in open networks. However, from the get go (interview) the question was “what professionals?”, “what context?”, to which my non-plussed answer was “professionals, people, in networks, the Internet”. And then the momentum of the MRes programme kicked in and there was no time to unpack my thinking and to take this forward. But now that I can go back, I see where the impasse occurred. There was much that was conflated.

The call itself was conflated. Areas suggested for investigation were conflated across contexts for learning and across the disciplines of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and literacies studies. These are disciplines that I’m conflated over myself as I have a subject specialism in Adult Literacy and a Master’s degree in Technology, Learning, Innovation and Change, which presents equally a source of synergy and challenge. There are different epistemological and methodological approaches associated with each respectively, and the uneasy relationship this causes is well-documented (Goodfellow & Lea, 2013; Gourlay, Hamilton & Lea, 2014; Lea, 2016).

I’m further conflated across contexts. I often fail to distinguish between everyday learning, lifelong learning, personal learning and professional learning, informal learning for continuing professional development and informal workplace learning. I’m also conflated across roles, or identities. Am I a learner, an educator, a researcher, learning support or learning technologist? Furthermore, am I positioned inside the academy or outside? Maybe I’m just me: living and learning, and liking it all the more when I’m participating in open networks.

It’s fair to say that I don’t easily recognise boundaries. There can be little doubt that I’m “a boundary creature [that] inhabits more than one world” (McGinnis, 1999, p.61). I think this is due in part because of my familiarity with network technology and learning in networks. Also, because the ability to adapt across contexts with the requisite change of identity is fundamental for a literacies practitioner so that they can support literacy as situated social practice wherever they’re deployed. Thankfully, the ability to perform work around boundary objects in interdisciplinary teams is an acknowledged imperative relative to TEL (Scanlon and Taylor, 2016), so all is not lost.

Given all this, and in terms of moving forward, I’m mindful of Maxwell’s (2013) advice that a conceptual framework for research is something that you build, not something that exists ready-made, and that the most productive ones often bring in ideas from outside traditionally defined fields and/or integrate different approaches or lines of investigation, or theories that hadn’t been previously connected.

It’s here that Actor Network Theory (Latour, 2005 and Law & Hassard, 1999) speaks to my sensibilities. ANT does not countenance binary concepts and plays down context in favor of contextualization. To counter technological determinism and social determinism, it takes a relational view that sees boundaries between the social and the material as emerging from the strength of  relationships between human and non-human actors. This relationship is manifested, or enacted, in everyday practices.

It seems that Actor Network Theory might be a useful way to investigate Open Educational Practices (OEP). I provide the definition of OEP advanced by Ehlers and Conole (2010), although it must be noted there’s no singularly agreed definition.

‘Open Educational Practices (OEP) are the use of open educational resources with the aim to improve the quality of educational processes and innovate educational environments.’

Actor Network Theory would enable OEP to be framed as sociomaterial practice and to highlight the literacy practices and use of learning technology that OEP embeds.

I mean, how does OEP get done? What does it look like? What components hold it together as a practice – texts, tech, policies etc. etc. How does it hold together to become a recognizable practice? In terms of the relationships that hold it together, what are the relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

O.K, but the question still remains, where is this OEP; where are the open education practices situated that I hope to research? In the network, of course, in the network of practices that pertain to Open Scholarship (Weller, 2011), or Networked Participatory Scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012), and given ANT’s proclivity towards the symmetry of  human and non-human actants, the recent conceptualization of the self as OER (Koseoglu and Bali, 2016), indeed a human OER (Funes, 2014), seems an almost irresistible prospect to research from such a perspective.

“Open educational practices as resources for others to use” (Koseoglu and Bali, 2016).

That is, the informal everyday activities that arise out of the relationships and motivations of individuals participating in open networked activities such as blogging and Tweeting.

So, along with a range of concepts, the OEP jigsaw pieces are out of the box, or maybe the self-OER or human OER jigsaw pieces are out of the box, who knows. And who knows, as I progress my research ideas, how they’ll be assembled and what picture they’ll present.


Ehlers, U. and Conole, G. (2010) ‘Open educational practices: Unleashing the power of OER’, UNESCO Workshop on OER in Namibia [Online]. Available at (Accessed 14 January 2017).

Funes, M. (2014) ‘A human OER’, doublemirror [Online]. Available at (Accessed 6 February 2017).

Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M.R., 2013. Literacy in the digital university: Critical perspectives on learning, scholarship and technology. Routledge.

Gourlay, L., Hamilton, M. and Rosalind Lea, M. (2014) ‘Textual practices in the new media digital landscape: messing with digital literacies’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 21, no. 0 [Online]. Available at (Accessed 14 January 2017).

Koseoglu, S. and Bali, M. (2016) ‘The Self as an Open Educational Resource [1091]’, #OER16 [Online]. Available at (Accessed 6 February 2017).

Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press

Law, J. & Hassard, J. (1999) Actor Network Theory and After. Oxford, England: Blackwell

Lea, M. R. (2016) ‘Academic literacies: looking back in order to look forward’, Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL), vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 88–101.

Maxwell, J. A. (2013) Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach., 3 edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif, SAGE Publications, Inc.

McGinnis, M.V. (1999) Bioregionalism. Cited in Adams, A., Fitzgerald, E. and Priestnall, G. (2013) ‘Of Catwalk Technologies and Boundary Creatures’, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 1–34.

Scanlon, E. and Taylor, J. (2016) ‘Is technology enhanced learning an interdisciplinary activity?’, [Online]. Available at (Accessed 14 January 2017).

Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R. (2012). Assumptions and challenges of open scholarship. International Review of Online & Distributed Learning, 13(4), 166-189.

Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. Basingstoke: Bloomsbury Academic.

Image: Erdenebayar