Open Educational Resources and Rhetorical Paradox in the Neoliberal Univers(ity)
As a phenomenon and a quandary, openness has provoked conversations about inequities within higher education systems, particularly in regards to information access, social inclusion, and pedagogical practice. But whether or not open education can address these inequities, and to what effect, depends on what we mean by "open" and specifically, whether openness reflexively acknowledges the fraught political, economic, and ethical dimensions of higher education and of knowledge production processes. This essay explores the ideological and rhetorical underpinnings of the open educational resource (OER) movement in the context of the neoliberal university. This essay also addresses the conflation of value and values in higher education - particularly how OER production processes and scholarship labor are valued. Lastly, this essay explores whether OER initiatives provide an opportunity to reimagine pedagogical practices, to reconsider authority paradigms, and potentially, to dismantle and redress exclusionary educational practices in and outside of the classroom. Through a critique of neoliberalism as critically limiting, an exploration of autonomy, and a refutation of the precept that OER can magically solve social inequalities in higher education, the author ultimately advocates for a reconsideration of OER in context and argues that educators should prioritize conversations about what openness means within their local educational communities.
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