Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Re: resources.

I dropped into a discussion at #OER17 on the politics of open which Autumm Caines @autumm was kindly live streaming (OER).

I didn't catch very much but it sort of confirmed how I have been thinking recently about my own teaching, education and the nature of open.

I wanted to note a few ideas down here while they are fresh.

The mass of "resources" on the net have attracted teachers and sometimes distracted teachers from what essentially were their own most important qualities.

As an English as a foreign language teacher, what is most missing in our practice is NOT documentary resources, videos, articles, but people with whom the learners (and teachers) can identify and communicate with in English.

People are NOT resources.

Teresa Mackinnon, who I met thanks to Steve Wheeler's blog (OER), and with whom I have worked for the past six years had a conversation with Sue Beckingham I noted this morning:

And posted this photo

Chris Gilliard said it the other day:

Jim Luke said it today:

Maha Bali's keynote (thanks OER) ended with an image of people in her learning network.

As I looked at her image, I thought of other distant images of  "people" that we see, selfies which become resources for branding individuals, selfies taken with famous people which give people status, or people reduced to statistics, to targets, to victims, to labourers, to Uber drivers, to slaves.

I heard Maha (whose name I am sure I pronounce incorrectly) talk of local academics plagiarising "open resources".

Resources give some people POWER.

I wondered about this term "Open Education Resources".

Who says "resources" says power.

"Power is not an institution, not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society."

Michel Foucault

Well connected people have power?  

I wonder an instant what "well" means.

I wonder an instant about "badly" connected people.

I wonder an instant about "sick connected people."

I wonder an instant about "sick well connected people."

I went and looked for connections to resources, collocations with the word "resources":

ADJ. considerable, enormous, large, major, substantial The library is an enormous resource for historians of medieval France. | important, vital | adequate, sufficient | limited, meagre, scarce | renewable, sustainable, unlimited | finite, limited, non-renewable | available | additional, extra | invaluable, useful, valuable Time is your most valuable resource, especially in examinations. | untapped | natural | material, physical | energy, mineral, oil, water | capital, economic, financial The school has limited financial resources. | human, staff | information, learning, library, teaching The database could be used as a teaching resource in colleges. | national | inner, personal She is someone of considerable personal resources.

VERB + RESOURCE be rich in, have Australia is a country rich in natural resources. We do not have the resources (= the money) to update our computer software. | lack | pool, share We'll get by if we pool our resources. | allocate, distribute, provide | divert, reallocate, redistribute the government's role in diverting resources into social policies | draw on, exploit, manage, mobilize, tap, use to mobilize resources in the community to provide shelter for the homeless We need to manage our resources better. | deplete, use up | squander, waste | conserve
RESOURCE + NOUN centre | allocation, management | depletion | constraints, implications
PHRASES access to resources, the allocation/distribution/provision of resources, the exploitation of resources, a lack of resources, the use of resources We must make the most efficient use of the available resources.

I did a Google Image Search with the word "Resources"

Of course, I selected the appropriate copyright tab - free to use or modify even for commercial uses.

These are open to use.

Google is open to use (for those with internet).

My Google search data is open to use (he coughs).

What was it that Autumm put on the tweet to the link to her live stream?

Raw click data become "resources".

People become "resources".

So here we are talking of OER from our strategic positions in our particular socieities.

"The university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class."

Michel Foucault

So here we are, many of us threatened by those who would discount our essential human value as essential human "resources" to their essential "education" systems.

Wouldn't some prefer, open, expertly designed personalisable resources, massive data collection of clicks and social network graphs, and deskilled tutors, or robots, a healthy profit from a stamp placed on a document, passport, badge, chip?

"Education may well be, as of right, the instrument whereby every individual, in a society like our own, can gain access to any kind of discourse. But we well know that in its distribution, in what it permits and in what it prevents, it follows the well-trodden battle-lines of social conflict. Every educational system is a political means of maintaining or of modifying the appropriation of discourse, with the knowledge and the powers it carries with it."

Michel Foucault

Is knowledge now what counts?

Isn't compliance more useful?

I think of an artist friend of mine painting canvases live on Facebook with the words: 

I am a prostitute.

"What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?" 

Michel Foucault

The screen shot that I took from Autumm's OER live stream made me feel frankly paranoid.

I went off and remixed it, to make me feel slightly better.

I am suddenly reminded of a tweet I sent earlier in the day.

Those mines on the map of Africa, we are mostly all being mined now.

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