A new breed of academics is emerging in the digital age. They are the researchers and teachers who freely share their knowledge and studies online. They are circumventing traditional approaches and discovering new ways of sharing their work. They are the open scholars.
Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) offer a similar perspective in their article Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship:
[Open scholarship] might include such activities as open teaching, the production and dissemination of open educational resources, publishing in open access journals, keeping a professional blog, and sharing of research data in online venues.
So, basically, open scholarship means we (educators) share our work or teach online and engage in dialogue through Twitter, blogs, social networking sites and so on. Both descriptions align with my previous post on open educational practices.
But I started thinking a little differently when I read something else by Steve Wheeler, a comment on true openness:
True openness is where content is shared freely, all work is attributed fairly, and where educators also open themselves up for dialogue, collaboration and constructive criticism. True open scholars are those who have aspirations to be global educators, promoting free learning for all, reaching out and connecting with other educators and learners everywhere, with the aim of participating fully in their worldwide community of practice.
I agree with Steve Wheeler that open scholarship “is a state of mind” and requires an open attitude to engage in “dialogue, collaboration and constructive criticism” in every aspect of scholarship, from teaching to research. So does open scholarship require access to technology and basic digital literacies as a prerequisite for practice? I don’t think so… That would limit the potential and sustainability of open education; openness should be a worldview for an educator more than a technological possibility (although I love the possibilities).
I don’t think we can talk about “true openness” or that true openness should be a target to reach on the openness spectrum – for example, should we all aim to be global educators? Also, the extent to which we participate in open scholarship is sometimes not a conscious choice. Sometimes it is just part of who we are, so change in practice requires a significant change in identity (how we see ourselves in relation to others) first. Open scholarship doesn’t have to be the same thing for every scholar.
My context? For me it has mostly been about transparency and connectivity (all rely on technology because of circumstances = phd mum). The most challenging part of it all is forming balanced open relationships. Sometimes I don’t know what to make of a Twitter conversation. Sometimes (I think) I send a friendly e-mail to somebody I’ve met online and get a one word response back. Sometimes I regret my tweets, sometimes I mull over a word for days. I’m still trying to make sense of all of this (the open world) and embrace the uncertainty as much as I can.