unpicking binaries

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Unpicking Binariesor, how educators conceptualise & make decisions about opennessCatherine Cronin @catherinecronin #dlRN15 16/10/15

Stanford Memorial Church (Flickr)

Unpicking binaries: easy polaritiesOnline / offline; virtual/realOpen / closed (bounded)academic staff / nonacademic staff Such language, as in so many contexts, fails to illuminate the spaces in between. The complexities.

Photo taken yesterday here at Stanford.




Open educator now researching OEP in higher education

Not fully formed or highly theorised Work in Progress!



Twitter photo: @HelenORahilly

Marriage Equality referendum Ireland became the first country in the world to legislate for same-sex marriage as the result of a popular vote.3



openness & open education

Much published about benefits of and barriers to openness, as well as interpretations of openness. Relatively few studies provide empirical results.

Theoretical context for this study: openness and open educational practices as sociocultural phenomenon. This perspective rejects the notion that such practices are deterministic and holds that, with adequate information and evidence, learners, instructors, and researchers have the agency to accept or reject any particular technology or practice or to find alternative uses for it that will better serve their needs.

- George Veletsianos (2015)

In fact, a recent paper of George Veletsianos is a fine example of this.


my PhD research:open educational practices (OEP) in higher education

OEP = ethos of sharing & transparency

This is not a study of the practices of OPEN educators/researcher, there are relatively few of these!This is a study of the practices of a broad range of educators what factors contribute to educators choosing open practices.6

research questions1.Why and how do faculty/academic staff in higher education use online tools and spaces for research, learning, and teaching? 2.Why and how do students and faculty/staff interact in open online spaces in higher education, and how do they negotiate their digital identities in these spaces?

research questions


research questions1.Why and how do faculty/academic staff in higher education use online tools and spaces for research, learning, and teaching? 2.Why and how do students and faculty/staff interact in open online spaces in higher education, and how do they negotiate their digital identities in these spaces?

research questions

FOCUS = digitally-mediated PRACTICES & MEANING

Definition!Academic staff = those on contracts in academic roles (Teaching Research) Faculty = US equivalent


research methodology

Descriptive case study

Empirical setting: one university

Broad definition of faculty/academic staff includes full-time & part-time, permanent & temporary, contract & no contract

Phase 1. semi-structured interviews with 15-20 faculty/academic staff (constructivist grounded theory)Phase 2. questionnaire for all members of faculty/academic staff (1000+)

NOT comparative!!!9

digital engagementdigital literaciesdigital identityemerging themesopennessanxiety

Focus on participants practices and meanings ascribed to those practices Interplay of AGENCY & CULTURE

Emerging themes in 3 areas...

traditional use of LMS, post lecture notes & readingsuse of LMSinvite student engagement in LMS, and/or beyond LMSno social media; no SNS profilesuse of SNS, social media use social media & SNS for research and/or for teachingDigital Visitor engagement, pull information on requestnetwork presence/activityDigital Resident engagement, push notifications & active networking

digital engagement

use Digital Natives discourse to describe students knowledge/ behaviourawareness of digital literaciesencourage development of digital literacies for students/staff; teach/embed digital literacieslament loss of analogue scholarly practices

I'm afraid of the future ofdigital scholarly practicesvalue digital scholarly practices, design into courses & assessment

digital literacies

single online institutional hub

online hubmultiple online hubs, institutional as well as chosen/external (e.g. Academia.edu) and/or created (e.g. blog)

strict boundary keeping professional/personal boundaryblended & flexible, accepts context collapse

digital identity

little concern for copyright restrictions; little/no awareness of Creative Commons copyright & open licensinguse OER, create OER, identify as open practitioner privacy is important, focus on risksprivacyprivacy is important, focus on management; or accepts lack of privacy


institutional position, i.e. precarityanxiety at all levels of engagement with social media/SNS (irrespective of level of use), e.g. Another Thing to dounsure of institutional policy or position re: social media, communication with students, openness, etc. unmanageable workload anxiety


This University as anxiety machine. This University as means for the production of anxiety.This University that forces us to internalise the creation of value and the extraction of value and the accumulation of value. This University that is recalibrated for value as we seek to resist in the name of teaching and learning and becoming and emancipation and us.

- Richard Hall (2015)


unpicking binaries

GRAY areas! Online / offline; virtual/realOpen / closed (bounded)academic staff / nonacademic staff


Open is a continuous, not binary, construct. A door can be wide open, completely shut, or open part way. So can a window. So can a faucet. So can your eyes. Our common-sense, every day experience teaches us that open is continuous. - David Wiley (2009) Openness is not the opposite of closed-ness, nor is there simply a continuum not simply whether education is more or less open, but what forms of openness are worthwhile and for whom; openness alone is not an educational virtue. - Richard Edwards (2015) open vs. closed

Valorize openness?18

observationsto be explored further

Use of OEP is relatively low, and uneven.Strong preference for Professional/Personal divide (individually defined & managed).Digital Natives assumptions are persistent.Anxiety re: use of social media & maintaining a digital identity/presence exists widely: usage does not innoculate.Greater use of open tools & spaces by academic staff with less institutional security.Apparent lack of institutional understanding, recognition, policy/position, support re: OEP.

e.g. Research more than Teaching


Thank you!Catherine Cronin@catherinecroninslideshare.net/cicronincatherinecronin.wordpress.com

Image: CC BY 2.0 visualpanic


ReferencesEdwards, Richard (2015). Knowledge infrastructures and the inscrutability of openness in education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40(3), 251-264. Esposito, Antonella (2015, September 25). PhD researchers using social media: Exploring the emergent trajectories of academic identities. SRHE presentation. Hall, Richard (2014, March 19). On the University as anxiety machine. Richard Halls space. [blog]Stewart, Bonnie (2015). In abundance: Networked participatory practices as scholarship. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(3). Veletsianos, George (2015). A case study of scholars open and sharing practices. Open Praxis, 7(3), 199-209. Wiley, David. (2009, November 16). Defining Open. iterating toward openness. [blog]


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