This project explores educators’ use of social media from the perspective of Open Educational Practices.
Open Educational Practices (OEP) are a contemporary stage in the development of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement. OEP has a range of definitions including that in The Cape Town Open Education Declaration which states: “Open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices”.
Nascimbeni & Burgos (2016) add further detail with their definition of an Open Educator: “An Open Educator … works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement her work”. Aspects of open online identities are being notably explored and developed by the ‘Self as OER’ community, including Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, Mariana Funes, Suzan Koseoglu and others.
Open Education may be a pioneer, but it is not alone in recognising the potential of online social networking for education. Many universities are encouraging educators to use Twitter, blogs and Facebook, contributing to George Veletsianos’ view that social media and online social networks are expected to transform academia and the scholarly process. However, the widespread adoption of open online identities by educators has been slow, with many educators deterred by the risks posed by social media, including loss of privacy, fraud and bullying. Incidents such as a Bristol University academic walking out of a lecture over cyber bullying add to this fear, and we must recognise the gender dimension to concerns about using social media, with 80% of victims of stalking being women.
If educators are to adopt sustainable open online identities, we need to acknowledge educators’ concerns and find ways to participate safely in social media. This project seeks to make a contribution by investigating the range of online sharing, networking and identity-building practices evidenced by open educators, and from them derive good-practice guidelines for online safety that will assist other educators to develop their own open online identities. In common with other Open Educators, I shall be using social media and blogging regularly throughout this project, viewing my PhD journey itself as a dynamic OER.