#OpenEd18: Keynote: Jess Mitchell

#OpenEd18: Keynote: Jess Mitchell

Jess Mitchell is Senior Manager, Research + Design at the Inclusive Design Research Centre. Through stories, Mitchell focused on the topic of equity and the purpose behind using Open Educational Resources. Her presentation was titled Tolerance for Failure: open Education and Its Ethical Edges. I thought it was a wonderful presentation.

Mitchell talked about inequities. Each day, we make decisions that leave someone behind. What is your tolerance for failure? Who can we leave behind and why? What course design decisions are you making and why?

She stressed the importance of telling stories to help facilitate learning – data doesn’t stick. One example was about ancient Greece. It was how education was for wealthy men. Many were exclude and subjugated.

When we make decisions for a course, we make them based on attendance, book costs, etc. Someone is being excluded.

Mitchell shared a slide with the following:

  • Apartheid was legal
  • Holocaust was legal
  • Slavery was legal
  • Colonialism was legal
  • Legality is power, not justice.

She spoke of the Little Rock Nine, who were harassed for years for simply trying to get a better education.

Why some and not others?

“Education is your most powerful weapon. With education, you are the white man’s equal; without education, you are his victim, and so shall remain all your lives.” ~ Chief Plenty Coups

Mitchell spoke about a guy named Damon, who is black. Damon dropped out of high school but earned his GED. Over time, he earned a Ph.D. in spite of people telling him it was not possible.

One thing I did not know about was the Great Flood of 1927. It was a historical flood made worse by bankers, who in an effort to save New Orleans blew up a levee that flooded low lying areas displacing hundreds of thousands of African-Americans. Although land and homes were damaged, these individuals were never compensated for their losses. This was an episode contributing to the Great Migration.

Mitchell then asked some very pointed questions:

Where do we draw the line in 2018 and 2019 in regards to Open Education?
Who writes and approves the content?
Is open license enough?
Who is architecting our schools and education?
Who makes the rules?
Do they make sense?
Who stands to benefit?

Nothing is neutral.

Whose voice is being amplified?

Diversity is a number:
Inclusion is a process:
Equity is an outcome.

Mitchell told another story, this time about a guy named Ted who also dropped out of school. Ted loved to learn but did not like the education system. He instead completed MOOCs to build his own knowledge.

We need to stand up for justice and inclusion. Access to education is power.

Additional Reading

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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