If learning activities can be employed to “improve our online environments” (Caufield 2017) how can we support our students to become cultural producers (Giroux 2017), to improve and work within open online environments while protecting their privacy and making them less vulnerable? How do we do so in environments increasingly defined by “surveillance capitalism”, in which innovation is framed by “extracting individuals’ data through persistent surveillance, data mining, tracking, and browser fingerprinting and then seeking new and “innovative” ways to monetize that data.” (Gilliard 2017)
We highlight the efforts of educators in British Columbia using open pedagogy to contribute to and shape the web while protecting student vulnerability and privacy. How can instructors balance the importance of student contributions to the open web while being mindful of Collier’s vision (Collier 2017) of digital sanctuary?
In British Columbia, Canada, due to the strict privacy laws around student information, there are many ways that universities are prodded into putting online ethics into practice. The development of a privacy bill of rights at the University of British Columbia, is one student-led initiative to “grant students the ability to make informed choices about their digital identities within the University context.”
We will look at examples including the Art and Feminism Wiki Meet-Up that the University of British Columbia participated in last year. During this activity, 6,500 articles about female artists were added improving the Wikipedia “information environment,” by helping to balance the gender imbalance in both the editor base and content. At the same time, instructors worked with students to deal with negative comments, aggressive editors and trolling to help protect their vulnerability in this often contested space. The concept of digital sanctuaries is taken even further at Thompson Rivers University with the development and employment of SPLOTs. Students participate in simple yet rich online interactions, with no identifying data required or collected. In a sense, SPLOTs are an instantiation of Collier’s Seven Strategies for “thinking about and handling student data” while allowing students to contribute to knowledge sharing and participation on the open web.
Finally at a provincial level is the British Columbia Open Ed Tech Co-op, a framework that challenges the prevailing logic of surveillance capitalism for platforms, drawing inspiration for the emerging dialogue around “platform cooperativism”. The co-op promotes the co-development and support of open platforms, and the sharing of tools and techniques, fostering capacity building amongst its regional partners and beyond.
Caulfield, Micheal. (2017) “Info-Environmentalism: An Introduction”. EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 6 (November/December 2017)
Collier, Amy. (2017) “Digital Sanctuary: Protection and Refuge on the Web?” EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 5 (September/October 2017)
Gilliard, Chris. (2017) “Pedagogy and the Logic of Platforms”. EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 4 (July/August 2017)
Girioux, Henry. (2017) “Rethinking Higher Education in a Time of Tyranny”. Truthdig. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/rethinking-higher-education-time-tyranny/