When we think about open educational practices and, we usually think of inclusivity, of removing barriers to education, and enabling global educational equity. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are becoming more widely adopted, and have been described as having the potential to increase participation in higher education and fostering social inclusion (Murphy, 2013). While there are a great many positive stories associated with open educational OERs improving opportunities and outcomes for students, there are still a number of fundamental challenges to the adoption and creation of OERs that are yet to be addressed. OER creation and adoption globally is highly variable, and the reasons for this are many and complex. In traditional institutions, there are still negative perceptions of OERs as being low quality and potentially providing poor quality learning outcomes, leading faculty to baulk at adopting them even when those concerns are demonstrably false (Annand and Jensen, 2017; Mtebe and Raisomo, 2014). Perhaps the greater challenge that has not been sufficiently addressed in the literature though stems from who has the capacity to create and share OERs. Developing, sharing, and maintaining OERs can be an expensive exercise, which can lead to the exclusion of smaller, less wealthy stakeholders who do not have access to the resources needed to viably engage with OER creation. As a result, much of the open educational content currently available has been developed in western nations, from a western philosophy and worldview, which may lead to questions of neo-colonialism and knowledge standardisation. While these OERs can be adapted to local contexts, this also requires resources, and importantly most of what we currently think of as OERs are digital learning resources that require access to the internet to access and share, which can exclude a significant portion of the world’s population in both western and developing nations (Willems and Bossu, 2012). A wide array of voices seem to currently be missing from the OER world, including those of indigenous peoples, other non-Eurocentric cultural groups, and non-Anglophone languages (Flor, 2013). This paper explores some of the voices missing from OERs, what this means for the movement, and suggests some possible ways to increase inclusion in open educational practices.
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Flor, A. G. (2013). Exploring the downside of open knowledge resources: The case of indigenous knowledge systems and practices in the Philippines. Open Praxis. 5(1): 75-80
Mtebe, J.S. and Raisomo, R. (2014). Challenges and instructors’ intention to adopt and use open educational resources in higher education in Tanzania. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. 15(1): 249-271.
Murphy, A. (2013). Open educational practices in higher education: institutional adoption and challenges. Distance Education. 34(2): 201-217
Willems, J. and Bossu, C. (2012). Equity considerations for open educational resources in the glocalisation of education. Distance Education. (33(2): 185-199.