Considering an effective Networked Practitioner, both approaches have benefits as discussed by Weller and Adam (The Open University, 2020). However, it is worth noting that to some degree, the advantages of openness are negated in a closed environment while a closed approach tends to maintain the status quo for the same reasons as to why openness should be embraced in digital scholarship.
The underlying factor is how to negotiate between the two approaches without compromising critical values such as privacy and intellectual property rights. In public space where the philosophy ” citizens have the right to information”(Riley, 2008) is touted, the matter gets complex when the protection of the information entrusted to public institutions legally supersedes. A Networked Practitioner decides on the route to take while navigating through the tunnels of openness and closed approach to digital practices and scholarship.
Key questions laid below can help to navigate how to respond to both open and closed approach to digital practices.
- What do I stand for? Openness, a by-product of Open education is credited for its attempts to democratize education (Murati, 2015) where the rights and opportunities are provided to the people in order to be educated. (UNESCO, n.d) declares education to be an empowering human right to be universally attained by everyone, everywhere. Openness lies at the center of what a Networked Practitioner stands for.
- Who needs to benefit from my research and writings? For long good research papers have ended up behind paywalls privileged to a few users able to pay and in most cases not even participants who were able to openly volunteer to give information have access to these resources to inform decision making in their community. Suzanne Day and colleagues assert that “Public voices have largely been absent from the discussions about open access publishing in medical research. Yet the public has a strong interest in ensuring open access to medical research findings because of their roles as funders, advocates, research participants, and patients”(Day et al, 2020). It is important for the Networked Practitioner to learn about the benefiting audiences that may not access research findings hidden behind paywalls. Examples of such Interest groups may include students, health workers, educators, and the community among others. It is a choice Suzanne Day and colleagues took to render their article open.
- Does my Open or closed choice infringe on the rights of others? Often, blocks of knowledge are put together to create an educative and informative, piece of information. Whereas knowledge is acquired, the means of putting it together can be referred to as collection or gathering. Research papers and articles as well as numerous Open Education Resources are a collection of pieces from different authors and sometimes copyrights are invoked. In the year 2018, legislators in Japan backtracked on a bill that would have forced faculty members in the University of Hawaii system to use open educational resources. The detractors of OERs argued that the bill failed to take into account that OER materials may not be suitable for all courses due to copyright restrictions (McKenzie, 2018)
Riley, T. (2008)’Openness vs. Privacy: What are the Tensions?’ [Online]. Available at https://www.i-policy.org/2008/04/openness-vs-pri.html (Accessed 21 October 2020).
Murati, R. (2015)’Conception and Definition of the Democratization of Education’, Journal of Education and Practice, Online]. Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1081375.pdf (Accessed 21 October 2020).
Day, S., Rennie, S., Luo, D. et al. Open to the public: paywalls and the public rationale for open access medical research publishing. Res Involv Engagem6, 8 (2020). Online]. Available at https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-020-0182-y (Accessed 21 October 2020).
McKenzie, L.(2018) ‘Hawaii Legislators Abandon Plan for Faculty Mandate on OER.’Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/02/27/oer-mandate-overturned-hawaii-amid-concern-about-infringement-academic-freedom (Accessed 21 October 2020).
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