Topic 5 – Reflection

At first Topic 5 seemed quite dry so I experimented with adding a theme to my post to try and bring my argument to life. I also found the student posts which focused their discussion on content producers to have the clearest structure.

in reverie
Fig.1: Infographic showing learnings from Topic 5.

There was a good deal of support for open access in last week’s research including clear benefits to content producers. Scott supported this in his comment that publishers unfairly drive profit margins at the expense of shared academia. I tried to address the balance by arguing that publishers are simply businesses and so cannot be blamed for these larger issues. In a similar vein, Rachel covered the less obvious disadvantages to a content producer of publishing open access and even went as far as to say that in their shoes she would follow conventional methods of publication due to the stigma surrounding open access and the importance of reputation when publishing. It is clearly a sensitive issue with complications and risks for involved parties; rather than blame being placed on one entity, I feel solutions must be driven by society as a whole.

Open access perhaps needs to be treated more like a movement with a gradual transition to a more open academic environment. I suggested the seeming redundancy of journals, to which Brad agreed:  ‘I think the entire process needs to be rejuvenated … Interactive, free and accessible content (such as MOOCs) are definitely the most effective and efficient way forward’. Wil also picked up on MOOCs, and we discussed the implications of these in greater detail.

In a digital world where everything increasingly feels like a closed book, whether open access can challenge current methods without the big publishers finding loopholes or adopting new policies remains to be seen. Ultimately there is a need to create new ways of communicating and sharing knowledge.

Word count: 307


Comment on Brad’s blog here.

Comment on Rachel’s blog here.

Featured Image: courtesy of Pexels.

Figure 1: Self-produced using Canva.

Access denied or granted?

There is an ongoing dialogue about whether work published online could and should be more freely available, expressly to those in education and those wishing to contribute to current research. Open access describes a situation where anyone anywhere in the world can access, read and build upon research content found online (Shockey and Eisen, 2012).

Open, adj. generous, sharing, giving (Wiley, 2010).

Those in support of open access argue that restricting material with pay walls can stifle creativity and the human desire for a shared culture as well as hindering educational goals and even global issues (Waters, 2017):

Without openness across global digital networks, it is doubtful that large and complex problems in areas such as economics, climate change and health can be solved (Hall, 2014).

So what does this mean for those wanting to post new material?

Fig. 1: Advantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online

It is easy to get swept up in the talk about open access being the future of digital and to heartily agree that publishers who charge users to view content online make large profits and add little value.

even the richest institutions can only afford to subscribe to a fraction of [journals] (Harnad, 2012).

Publishers argue that such accusations are unfounded and that without appropriate fees they would not be able to edit work to the same scholarly standard nor distribute it so effectively (Brown, 2012). This short film shows us the perils of being a publisher.

As a university student I am frequently made aware of the extent to which online material is restricted and am left feeling frustrated and disappointed when I am denied access to some of the best journal articles for my assignments. This topic has helped me to realise how much I am enjoying the research process for this module which encourages use of widely available sources and the sharing of those sources with peers for an enriched and supportive learning experience.

There is a new trend for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which form a way of widening access and tackling the spiralling cost of education (Coughlan, 2012). I first became aware of a these a few weeks ago during this module when I was asked to speak to camera about my views on online identity for Future Learn MOOC ‘Learning in the network age’. I was interested to learn that these represent a fantastic learning resource for a limitless audience.

Word count: 409


Brown, K, A. (2012). Open access: why academic publishers still add value. Guardian.

Coughlan, S. (2012). Gates Foundation funds online university open access. BBC News.

Hall, M. (2014). Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. Guardian.

Harnad, S. (2012). There’s no justifying Research Council UK’s support for gold open access. Guardian.

JustinG4000. (2008). A Shared Culture: Creative Commons.

Lepitak, S. (2013). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. The Drum.

Shockey, N. and Eisen, J. (2012). Open Access Explained! Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics).

Waters, S. (2017). The educator’s guide to copyright, fair use, and creative commons. The Edublogger.

Weller, M. (2013). What Sort Of Open Do You Want? The Ed Techie.

Wiley, D. (2010). Openness and the Future of Education.  SlideShare.

Wiley, D, Green, C,, and Soares, L. (2012). Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER. Center For American Progress.

Figure References

Featured Image: courtesy of Pexels.

Figure 1: Self-produced using Microsoft PowerPoint with information from Weller (2013).

Film: Self-produced using Powtoon.