Tag Archives: Women in Tech

Google Doodles, Women in Red and the missing Marian Fischman⤴

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Earlier this week Google commemorated psychiatrist and substance abuse researcher Dr Herbert Kleber with a Google Doodle by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and provided a rather sobering example of how technology reinforces systemic bias and structural inequality, and also how we can address it. 

Kleber is certainly worth celebrating, a quick glance at his Wikipedia page shows that he revolutionised approaches to theorising, researching and treating drug addiction, by rejecting punitive and moralistic approaches and focusing on scientific research into the causes and treatments of addiction.  Kleber’s Wikipedia page also records that he co-founded the Substance Abuse Division at Columbia University, with his wife Dr Marian Fischman.  Fishman was already a respected psychologist researching narcotics and addiction when she met and married Kleber in 1987 and they founded the Substance Abuse Center five years later in 1992.  However when Google published their doodle on 1st October, to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of Kleber’s election to the National Academy of Medicine, Fischman had no Wikipedia page of her own.  Indeed she didn’t even warrant a red link. I flagged this up on twitter to the fabulous Wiki Women In Red project, which aims to address Wikipedia’s gender gap by creating new biographical articles for women, and turning red links blue, and I’m delighted to say that Fischman had her own Wikipedia entry by the end of the day.  It’s still just a stub and could do with a lot more work, but at least it’s there and it’s a starting point. 

There are many more prominent women scholars, thinkers, researchers and scientists who are all too often relegated to the role of “wife” and who lack their own Wikipedia entries. If you’d like to help write entries for some of these women, the University of Edinburgh is running a Women in Engineering Wikipedia editathon as part of its Ada Lovelace Day events on Tuesday 8th October so why not come along and help us to record the achievements of some notable women.  You can find out more information and sign up for the Ada Lovelace Day events and editathon here: https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/ 

And who knows, maybe one day Marian Fischman will be celebrated by her own Google Doodle too. 

Dr Herbert Kleber Google Doodle by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

ALTC Personal Highlights⤴

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I’ve already written an overview and some thoughts on the ALTC keynotes, this post is an additional reflection on some of my personal highlights of the conference. 

I was involved in three sessions this year; Wikipedia belongs in education with Wikimedia UK CEO Lucy Crompton-Reid and UoE Wikimedian in Residence Ewan McAndrew, Influential voices – developing a blogging service based on trust and openness with DLAM’s Karen Howie, and Supporting Creative Engagement and Open Education at the University of Edinburgh with LTW colleagues Charlie Farley and Stewart Cromar.  All three sessions went really well, with lots of questions and engagement from the audience.  

It’s always great to see that lightbulb moment when people start to understand the potential of using Wikipedia in the classroom to develop critical digital and information literacy skills.    There was a lot of interest in (and a little envy of) UoE’s Academic Blogging Service and centrally supported WordPress platform, blogs.ed.ac.uk, so it was great to be able to share some of the open resources we’ve created along the way including policies, digital skills resources, podcasts, blog posts, open source code and the blogs themselves.  And of course there was a lot of love for our creative engagement approaches and open resources including Board Game Jam and the lovely We have great stuff colouring book.  

Stewart Cromar also did a gasta talk and poster on the colouring book and at one point I passed a delegate standing alone in the hallway quietly colouring in the poster.  As I passed, I mentioned that she could take one of the colouring books and home with her.  She nodded and smiled and carried on colouring.  A lovely quite moment in a busy conference.

It was great to hear Charlie talking about the enduringly popular and infinitely adaptable 23 Things course, and what made it doubly special was that she was co-presenting with my old Cetis colleague R. John Robertson, who is now using the course with his students at Seattle Pacific University.   I’ve been very lucky to work with both Charlie and John, and it’s lovely to see them collaborating like this.

Our Witchfinder General intern Emma Carroll presented a brilliant gasta talk on using Wikidata to geographically locate and visualise the different locations recorded within the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database.  It’s an incredible piece of work and several delegates commented on how confidently Emma presented her project.  You can see the outputs of Emma’s internship here https://witches.is.ed.ac.uk/about

Emma Carroll, CC BY NC 2.0, Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology

I really loved Kate Lindsay’s thoughtful presentation on KARE, a kind, accessible, respectful, ethical scaffolding system to support online education at University College of Estate Management.  And I loved her Rosa Parks shirt. 

Kate Lindsay, CC BY NC, Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology

I also really enjoyed Claudia Cox’s engaging and entertaining talk Here be Dragons: Dispelling Myths around BYOD Digital Examinations.  Claudia surely wins the prize for best closing comment…

Sheila MacNeill and Keith Smyth gave a great talk on their conceptual framework for reimagining the digital university which aims to challenge neoliberalism through discursive, reflective digital pedagogy.  We need this now more than ever.

Keith Smyth, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

Sadly I missed Helen Beetham’s session Learning technology: a feminist space? but I heard it was really inspiring.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to hear Helen talk, we always seem to be programmed in the same slot!  I also had to miss Laura Czerniewicz’s Online learning during university shut downs, so I’m very glad it was recorded. I’m looking forward to catching up with is as soon as I can.

The Learning Technologist of the Year Awards were truly inspiring as always. Lizzie Seymour, Learning Technology Officer, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland at Edinburgh Zoo was a very well deserved winner of the individual award, and I was really proud to see the University of Edinburgh’s Lecture Recording Team win the team award.  So many people across the University were involved in this project so it was great to see their hard work recognised.

UoE Lecture Recording Team, CC BY NC, Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology

Without doubt though the highlight of the conference for me was Frances Bell‘s award of Honorary Life Membership of the Association for Learning Technology.  Frances is a dear friend and an inspirational colleague who really embodies ALT’s core values of participation, openness, collaboration and independence, so it was a huge honour to be invited to present her with the award.  Frances’ nomination was led by Catherine Cronin, who wasn’t able to be at the conference, so it gave me great pleasure to read out her words.

“What a joy to see Frances Bell – who exemplifies active, engaged and generous scholarship combined with an ethic of care –being recognised with this Honorary Life Membership Award by ALT.

As evidenced in her lifetime of work, Frances has combined her disciplinary expertise in Information Systems with historical and social justice perspectives to unflinchingly consider issues of equity in both higher education and wider society.

Uniquely, Frances sustains connections with people across higher education, local communities and creative networks in ways which help to bridge differences without ignoring them, and thus to enable understanding.

Within and beyond ALT, we all have much to thank her for.” 

I confess I couldn’t look at Frances while I was reading Catherine’s words as it was such an emotional moment.   I’m immensely proud of ALT for recognising Frances’ contribution to the community and for honouring her in this way.

Frances Bell, Honorary Life Member or ALT, CC BY NC, Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology

And finally, huge thanks to Maren, Martin and the rest of the ALT team for organising another successful, warm and welcoming conference. 

Professional Blogging: Acknowledging social media harassment⤴

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As part of the University of Edinburgh’s Academic Blogging Service, I’ve been teaching a workshop on Blogging to Build your Professional Profile.  This workshop has run once a month since September last year and I’ve also presented tailored versions of it to various groups around the University, most recently to student interns who are working with us during the summer. 

In order to make the workshop materials as open and reusable as possible, I created them on a WordPress blog running Alan Levine’s fabulous SPLOT Point theme. This proved to be a smart move because it means it’s really easy to update the materials as I’ve gained greater understanding of which topics are of interest and concern to colleagues around the University.

One topic that I’ve always felt the workshop materials didn’t adequately cover is the drawbacks of using social media.  During the workshop I point colleagues towards the University’s Managing Your Digital Foot Print resources, and in the section on Amplifying your Blog with Social Media I always make the point that social media can be a hostile environment for women, people of colour and marginalised groups in particular, however I didn’t have anything explicitly covering this in the course materials. Three things have prompted me to address this.  Firstly, a female colleague who spoke to me in private after a workshop to ask about using pseudonyms on social media as she had legitimate concerns about her privacy and safety.  Secondly a male colleague who explained to me during a workshop that it’s not just women and people of colour who experience harassment online.  (This is true, but it does not negate the fact that there are specific gendered and racist aspects to online harassment.) And thirdly, this article by Katherine Wright, which I recently read, about how twitter can be a hostile environment that “can and does have serious repercussions for women and other marginalised groups.”  Wright goes on to say: 

“Given the severity of the gendered and racialised pushback many experience in the public eye, and twitter specifically, all training on social media or engagement should start with this. It is a responsibility of our employers and us as individuals who care about whose voice is heard.”

So in order to start addressing that responsibility the workshop page on Amplifying your blog with social media now includes the following note of caution:  

Although using social media, particularly twitter, can be a great way to amplify and disseminate your blog posts, it’s important to be aware that social media can be a hostile environment, particularly for women, people of colour and marginalised groups, who may experience targeted harassment.  You should never feel obliged to engage with social media, particularly if you feel unsafe or attacked.  Your online safety is of paramount importance.

blogs.ed.ac.uk allows you to choose whether to make your blog posts available to the general public, to EASE authenticated users only, or to keep them completely private. It’s entirely up to you.

All users should exercise caution when disseminating potentially sensitive or controversial topics. A blog post that may not be controversial in an academic context could resulting in unwanted attention or abuse if it circulates widely in the public domain.

Further advice and guidance is available as follows:

I’d be really interested to know how other institutions and organisations are addressing this aspect of e-safety, so if you’ve got links to any guidelines, research or practice, please let me know. 

Remembering Marion⤴

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Like many colleagues, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Marion Kelt earlier this week. Marion was Research and Open Access Librarian at Glasgow Caledonian University Library, but more than that, she was a weel kent, well respected and well liked member of the open education community.

Marion was nothing if not tenacious and, as a result of her persistence, Glasgow Caledonian University became the first university in Scotland to approve an institutional OER policy. Marion gave an enlightening and entertaining talk about the development of this policy at the OER15 conference in Cardiff, and the extraordinary lengths she had to go to get it approved. I vividly remember her telling us about the months she spent trying to track down the institutional IPR policy, which she’d been told the OER policy had to refer to, only to finally discover that no such policy existed!

It was typical of Marion’s enthusiasm and generosity that she was more than willing to share her experience with colleagues here at the University of Edinburgh when we were developing our own OER policy and establishing the OER Service. GCU’s OER policy is one of three OER policies the University of Edinburgh’s builds on.

The GCU OER policy wasn’t the only contribution Marion made to the open education community. She regularly attended and spoke at the OER conferences, and just recently presented a paper at OER19 in Galway about the GCU Copyright Advisor, a really useful piece of work that I hope will stand as Marion’s legacy. The Copyright Advisor walks users through a series of questions to help them decide whether and in what context different types of resources can be used. The tool was developed for use within GCU but because it’s open licensed (of course), it can easily be adapted for use in other contexts and institutions.

We won’t remember Marion just for her contribution to the open education community though, we’ll remember her for her warm and generous spirit, her love of cats and music, fancy shoes and G&T. Marion’s colleagues at GCU have set up a Just Giving appeal in her name to benefit Cats Protection, a cause that was close to her heart, and which you can donate to here. CILIP Scotland have also written a touching obituary for Marion here: Marion Kelt (nee Murphie).

Marion at OER19

The annual ALT Scotland Meet Up this week was dedicated to Marion’s memory, and these are just some of the many tributes to her that have been posted on twitter.

PressEDConf19: Reflections on the #femedtech Open Space⤴

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This PressED Conference presentation by Lorna M. Campbell, Frances Bell, Maren Deepwell and Sheila MacNeill reflected on our experience of using a WordPress SPLOT to support the #femedtech Open Space; an accessible & inclusive space to question dominant narratives of open & explore themes & conversations around openness, equality, diversity & inclusion in education.

Blogging about Blogging⤴

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I’ve been rather neglecting this blog recently, ironically because I’ve been busy blogging about blogging on other blogs :}  The University of Edinburgh launched a new Academic Blogging Service, including a centrally supported WordPress platform, blogs.ed.ac.uk, last year and the service has really taken off.  

In addition to our workshop Blogging to Build your Professional Profile, as part of the roll out of the service, Karen Howie (Digital Learning Applications & Media) and I have been curating a Mini-Series on Academic Blogging over on the Teaching Matters blog. The series features reflections on different uses of academic blogs from staff and students across the university.  Together with Susan Greig (Digital Skills) and Daphne Loads (Institute of Academic Development), I wrote a post on blogging for professional accreditation Blogging: What is it good for? The post reflects on my experience of using my blog to create and evidence my CMALT portfolio, while Susan and Daphne discuss how blogging can be used to support CMALT and HEA accreditation. 

We’ve also recorded two podcasts as part of the series; one on How Blogging can be used as an effective form of assessment, and another on Blogging to enhance professional practice, which is a conversation between Karen Howie, Eli Appleby-Donald (Edinburgh College of Art), James Lamb (Centre for Research in Digital Education) and I.  Though I’ve recorded lots of webinars, this is the first time I’ve recorded a conversational podcast and it was a really fun experience!  Karen made a great “interviewer” and, perhaps surprisingly, Eli, James and I managed not to talk over each other all the time.  Although all of us have quite a difference experience of and approach to blogging we were all very much in agreement that blogging can be a great way to enhance professional and academic practice. 

The week before last I had double blogging; on Wednesday afternoon I gave a talk as part of a panel on “Using Social Media to Engage Research End Users” for colleagues in the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Then later in the evening I joined Girl Geek Scotland to give a talk on professional blogging (slides) as part of and event on “Your Online Self:  How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?” Girl Geek Scotland are a network and community for those working and studying in creativity, computing, enterprise, and related sectors in Scotland. As most of the participants are working and building careers in the commercial sector it was quite a different audience to the kind I usually experience and it was really interesting for me to reflect on the affordances and tensions between using blogging and social media to develop your personal profile and to market a personal brand.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the whole event so I missed the discussion sessions later in the evening but Anne-Marie said that there was considerable interest in using blogs for personal development, so I’ll take that as a win.  Now all I need to do, is get my own blog back in order!

Salt and fanCCy – My autobiography according to twitter⤴

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Earlier this week Laura Czerniewicz posed an interesting and entertaining question on twitter…

I’ve written on this blog before about the difficulty of explaining what my job as a learning technologist involves, (What do you do? Starting out on CMALT), so I was completely stumped by Laura’s question.  When in doubt, the best course of action is always to ask twitter, and the results, which were clever, enlightening and funny, did not disappoint. Come to think of it, clever, enlightening and funny is also a pretty good description of the learning technology community on twitter 🙂

John’s suggestion refers to the fact that I have the rare honour of being immortalised in the IMS Question And Test Interoperability (QTI) specification.  Somewhere, buried in the voluminous spec documents, is an example of a multiple choice question along the lines of “Lorna is flying home, which airport is closest to her home town?” 

And then there’s Anne-Marie…

OER19 – Stories of Hope⤴

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It always takes me a while to write my post OER Conference reflection because I invariably come back brimming with so many thoughts, ideas, emotions and new perspectives that it’s hard to know where to start. When Catherine Cronin introduced the themes of OER19 Recentering Open: Critical and Global Perspectives at the end of OER18 in Bristol she stressed the imperative of moving beyond hero narratives and including marginalised voices, and the conference certainly met that challenge.  Rarely have I had the privilege to be part of such a diverse, inclusive, respectful and supportive community.  It was a humbling and empowering experience. 

Hope, Labour and Care

If I was to pick one overarching theme from the conference it would be hope. Kate Bowles set the tone of the conference with her profoundly moving and thoughtful opening keynote A quilt of stars: time, work and open pedagogy.  Along the way, Kate acknowledged and paid her respects to those who have shaped and supported her learning journey, from the traditional owners of the land on which she works, the Wadi Wadi Nation, though pioneering Irish astronomers, American solar quilters, friends and colleagues.  And Kate also gave us a moment of silence re-member those who had helped us on our own open journeys and who were not able to be with us in Galway.

Kate spoke about the importance of our labour of care, and how we absorb that labour into our own open practice, but she also highlighted the risk that without a system wide ethic of care, open practice becomes another caring labour.  And we know that such labour usually falls to women and those who lack power and privilege. (This is a something that is very close to my own heart and the heart of the femedtech network.) But it was Kate’s closing note that really resonated with me throughout the conference.  Quoting Henry Giroux “Hope must be tempered by the complex reality of our times” Kate reminded us that although hope must be realistic about the environment we work in, change is possible, and that  

“Hope is not a pipe dream, it is the most important resource we have. It is the heartbeat of our politics.”

Hope was also the theme of the closing address of the conference, with co-chairs Catherine and Laura separately and independently both choosing the same quote from Rebecca Solnit’s Hope In The Dark

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”

https://twitter.com/LornaMCampbell/status/1116373348370583552

Telling Tales

It seems fitting somehow that Galway was a place to tell stories. Kate began by quoting Jerome Bruner in her keynote “any story one may tell about anything, is better understood by considering other ways in which it can be told.” I heard many stories told in many different voices. Su-Ming Khoo told the Haida story of The Raven and the First Men and the opening of the world.  Johanna Funk shared her story of Learning on Country in the coastal homelands of Galiwin’ku with Dr Kathy Guthadjaka.  Lori Hargreave told her own deeply personal Tale of Resilience. When the audio technology failed us, Frances Bell stepped in and  gave voice to Suzan Koseoglu’s moving found poem reflecting the voices of Turkish womens’ stories of open and distance learning, which led to a powerful conversation about women’s anger when they are denied the right to education. But perhaps the story that spoke to my own heart was Sara Thomas Once Upon an Open, a story about rescuing two Scottish women, Marie Lamont & Lady Catherine Bruce of Clackmannan, from the forest of history, a story of orcs, and trolls and damn rebel bitches, a story of who gets to tell stories.

Values and Pictures

We were also telling stories in our University of Edinburgh workshop, Positioning the values and practices of open education at the core of University business, when Stuart Nicol, Anne-Marie Scott and I challenged participants to share stories of how openness could be centred and have impact in their institutions.  To provide inspiration we shared some of the amazing open licensed images curated by the University’s Centre for Research Collections and the results were as inspiring as they were creative.  We filmed the stories people told and as soon as we’ve got them online, we’ll share them on Open.Ed.

[See image gallery at lornamcampbell.org]

Decolonisation

Decolonisation, dispossession and the need to foreground indigenous knowledge were other themes that ran throughout the conference.  In her challenging and thought provoking keynote, Openings – Bounded (in) equities; entangled lives, Su-Ming Khoo noted that while we would like to think of Higher Education as a zone of freedom, that freedom is bound up in our entanglements with power, capitalism, and the colonial present. She challenged us to unmask the colonial wound and use these open wounds to be the place where healing and suturing can take place, reminding us that there is honour and value in the art of repair, kintsugi.

“We need to address the psychological and emotional legacy of colonialism and the needs of both the oppressor and oppressed in order to overcome and transform.”

Su-Ming’s keynote made me think of my own people and their history of being both oppressed and oppressor; the Gaels who were cleared from their homelands to the ‘New World’ only to re-enact their own dispossession on the people they found there.

femedtech

femedtech had a powerful presence at the conference.  Sharon Flynn gave a huge shoutout to the importance of the community in her welcoming address and we were overwhelmed by the positive response to the femedtech Open Space, femedtech.net, both in terms of the writing that’s been shared and the people who came to our open space session, where it was standing room only.

In their presentation on the open distributed network and shared curation model that is @femedtech on twitter, Frances Bell, Louise Drumm and Lou Mycroft explained that femedtech’s resources are passion, kindness, enthusiasm and volunteer time, all of which were present at OER19 in abundance.  If any one image sums up the femedtech community, it’s this: women supporting women. 

It is such an honour and a privilege to be part of this amazing community.

Regrets

If I have one regret from the conference, it’s that because I took part in so many sessions and was also on chairing duties, I missed dozens of talks that I really wanted to hear.  I had to duck out of Taskeen Adam, Caroline Khun and Judith Pete’s open praxis keynote panel so I’m immensely grateful for the recording of this and other sessions provided by ALT and OER’s amazing media team of Martin Hawksey and Harry Lamb.  Huge thanks to Martin and Harry to make sure these critical and necessary voices can be heard by all.

That Guy(TM)

There’s one last point I want to reflect on before I round off this post…Not once over the course of the four days I spent in Galway, did I find myself stuck listening to That Guy(TM).  You know the one, I’m sure you’ve met him at many conferences, the guy (though they’re not always guys) who hogs the conversation and is tone deaf to the voices of those who lack his privilege.  I heard many, many diverse voices at OER19, but not once did I hear That Guy(TM).  So I’d like to thank Catherine, Laura, Maren, Martin and everyone who made OER19 such an empowering and inclusive conference and ensuring that marginalised voices were listened to and heard.  It fills me with hope.

Other Voices⤴

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This piece was originally posted on femedtech.net

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post, tbh I’m not even sure what it is I’m trying to say, but I have a gut feeling that something needs to be said about the historiography of the open movement. Who is it that writes that history? Whose voices do we choose to amplify? Whose contributions do we remember and celebrate? Whose are forgotten and silenced? How do we acknowledge the contribution of individuals whose personal ethics and politics are often at odds with our open feminist practice? I’m talking about the saints and messiahs, the ideologues and homesteaders, the founding fathers and benevolent dictators. Men who have played an undeniable role in shaping concepts of openness in the domain of technology, but whose personal ethics may be wildly out of tune with many of the values we hold dear in the open education community; equality, diversity, inclusion, social justice.

As a sometime-historian, this is a dilemma, and I realise that even by writing this post I’m perpetuating the narrative that certain individuals are central to any understanding and history of open. I also realise that much more thoughtful writers than me have examined the history of openness and technology through a nuanced and critical lens. Audrey Watters has written extensively about our collective amnesia when it comes to the history of ed tech, and Mar Hicks has published widely about how women suffered the double ignominy of first being discarded by the UK computer industry and then being written out of its history all together.

Of course it’s possible acknowledge the importance of ideas, while purposefully “forgetting” where they came from, to retain the ideas, but write their authors out of history. But I’m really uneasy about separating the message from the messenger like this, because I think our beliefs are, to a greater or lesser degree, codified in our ideas. Our ideas are shaped by who we are, by our personal ethics and belief systems, by our view of the world around us.   If we purposefully forget where some of the ideas that have shaped our concepts of openness have come from and how they have been formed, we run the risk of sleep walking into a future where open education is for the few not the many, and where openness simply reinforces real world injustices and inequalities.

Following the lead of writers like Audrey and Mar we need to construct our own diverse and inclusive narrative and historiography of openness. We need to understand how people’s views are reflected in their work and we need to approach them critically and reflectively. We can’t write people out of history, and nor should we attempt to do so, but we can choose whose voices we amplify, whose we listen to, whose we hear. And we also need to learn to listen to the silences, to identify whose voices have been elided and excluded from narratives of open.   We need to be thoughtful and critical and open minded. We need to listen to other voices.


Some comments on this blog post from twitter:

Open Practice and Invisible Labour⤴

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This piece was originally posted on femedtech.net.

Something has been niggling at me for ages now. Something about digital labour and open education. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to frame this and what I’m trying to say, but Martin Weller’s thoughtful blog post on gatherer calories and invisible artefacts and Frances Bell’s subsequent comment gave me a starting point.

On the blogging calories front, there have been 6 guest OER19 posts so far, with 11 authors, all women

Catherine Cronin has eloquently reminded us that openness is a continually negotiated space, a constantly negotiated practice. We all experience openness differently, from different perspectives and different positions of privilege and discrimination. For some of us, open education is part of our job, for some it’s our research, our field of study, for some it’s a philosophy, an ethos, a personal commitment, for some it’s political. For many it’s all of the above.

I am privileged to be able to work in the area of open education and I also regard myself as an open education practitioner. My open practice is expressed in different ways; I read, I write, I comment, I blog, I participate in the femedtech network, I contribute to Wikipedia. It’s a practice that extends far beyond the bounds of my job and I have no complaint with that, quite the opposite in fact, I appreciate this blurring of my institutional role with my personal commitment to openness. That’s part of my privileged experience of openness. However the blurring of these boundaries also raises issues of digital labour.

We all have a deep personal commitment to our practice, to equity and openness, we all want to be good citizens of the open community, making a positive contribution to the commons, but when do the hours that we willingly devote to open education start to become unacknowledged, invisible digital labour? And as both Frances and Martin have pointed out, so often those that go the extra mile are those who are marginalised in some way, women, people of colour, early career researchers, those employed on precarious contracts. At what point does personal commitment become unwitting exploitation of labour?

These are problems that exist right across academia of course and open education is far from immune. How much does the open community rely on invisible digital labour? How far does it exclude those who are unable or unwilling to contribute their labour for free? And how do we mitigate this?

This thread from @HEreflections1 caught my attention on twitter last week:

One of the most pernicious aspects of stress, anxiety and burnout in education is that it often starts with individuals who work longer hours through enjoyment and an ethic of care. But at some point the organisation captures this as core work which has to be done.

As a result the enjoyment, the agency is lost and the stress begins to grow, leading eventually to hate and/or exhaustion in some cases. And it creeps up on people so that they blame themselves. This is the failure of the system, and any discussion of well-being or

expert groups focusing on happiness misses the point completely. What starts with dignity and vocation is smashed by performativity, by human as resource, and by an inability to see education as a community.

The point that particularly struck me was this:

What starts with dignity and vocation is smashed by performativity

And this was echoed by Laura Czerniewicz during this week’s OER19 preview webinar when she cautioned that

“Good intentions can undermine themselves with unintended consequences.”

When so much of our open practice is mediated through social networks there is sometimes a pressure to always be “on”, to always be commenting and contributing, to always to be seen to be doing. And it was this that prompted me to ask this question in our femedtech OER19 Open Space

If there a performative aspect to openness, what does it achieve and how?

I don’t have an answer to this question, and I’m not even sure I know where I’m going with this yet, but I do think we do need to be able to balance our agency as open practitioners and citizens of the global open education community with cognisance that it is our digital labour that sustains that community at both the personal and institutional level.