Open sanctuary versus cyber security

The title of this post might be a bit misleading. It’s not a “fight” situation, or playing one of the other in black and white. This post is more about me trying to make sense of some “stuff” that has been churning around in my head for the past couple of weeks about my relationship with open education and openness in general. Doing our institutional cyber security training yesterday has helped give me a (sort of) focus for the post.

So, the last couple of months, in fact the whole of 2016 has been, to put it mildly, a bit of a funny old year. In the first of her annual ed tech review posts, Audrey Watters has (as ever) accurately summarised the feelings of so many of us regarding the loss of so much and so many.

Despite the corporate driven changes to many social media platforms, and in particular twitter, I have found solace after Brexit, after the US election, from many of my friends and colleagues and others who I don’t know, as they have expressed and shared their feelings. There are too many people to mention, but Martin, Lorna, and Helen  spring to mind.

This open sharing helps keep me sane, helps me fight my despair around the post truth climate we all find ourselves in. I make no apologies for “my bubble”. I also know many people are moving to different places in protest at many aspects of social media platform management and data manipulation.

last week as I tried to follow the “cool kidz” into mastodon, I felt for the first time in a long time, isolated, unsure and really not at all comfortable in a social network -see this comment for more. Part of me wants to start an “occupy” movement in twitter, claim back our network, but I digress.

I’ve always, probably naively, tried to keep Politics our of my professional life. Dealing with internal politics has always been quite enough. But that’s no longer the case. Education, imho, has never been so Politcised. It’s never been so necessary for all of us in education to be so. We are where the fight back against post truth, the dismal of fact needs to be strongest.

The theme of OER17 – The Politics of Open  will have even greater resonance than when it was first announced. Planning a contribution to the conference is where and when the notion of open sanctuary came to my mind.

I found it really hard to come up with anything to submit to the conference, and partly that was do with internal politics. Actually sharing some of the issues I perceive in my institution openly could potentially put me in a very difficult position.

During discussion for a fingers crossed successful workshop submission to the conference, with the wonderful Frances Bell and Viv Rolfe, they reassured my that I wasn’t alone. Our open networks allow us to reach out from the institutional madness, to inspire us to keep going and do our bit to support OEP and OER to grow within our own institutions. I’m still not articulating all of this very well, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

So yesterday I had to do my cyber security training. OMG, that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back. Now, I’m not writing this to have a go at anyone involved in producing this. It’s all standard corporate training with the obligatory “high quality” videos and quizzes. But I have a real issue with this whole cyber security thang.

It’s all about closing things down, about corporate security, about platforms vying to place themselves as the most cyber secure cloud, about shutting down our civil liberties.

I realise there are serious issues “out there in cyber space” (and is it just me or does cyber space just sound scary?) around data, information management and access. But, particularly in a university setting instead of taking the (cyber) stick, padlock, lock down approach be thinking about empowerment? About developing digital capability and capacity?

Uncertainty causes fear (hello Mr Trump, Mrs May). Uncertainty causes people to make mistakes. If you are clear and confident about “stuff” you’re going to be able to make better judgements for example not to send exam marks via email. Instead of sitting through 2 hours of videos, wouldn’t it have been better to you know, try something different? Maybe a team based scenario where you had to deal with some major data breach that was (and this is crucial) relevant to your context? Maybe look at productive failure approach (as highlighted in this years OU Innovating Pedagogy report)

It’s easier to just push out corporate style training. Isn’t it ironic that in universities where we are supposed to extend notions of learning and teaching, we can’t see past standard corporate training for our staff? Another way to turn us off, to make us disengage, to make us fear the open,  disengage from open practice, for the platforms to come in and take over?



My little bit of sanctuary  . . .