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Shifting Academic Culture Through Collaborative Policy Creation
The purpose of this study was to determine how policy can shift academic culture towards more socially just practices through open scholarship. By examining the #FemEdTech social media contributions, the network community’s code of conduct, and its embedded values, this project maps the possibilities and pitfalls of collaborative policy making. In this chapter, the larger implications of findings are discussed and described through the metaphorical map, #FemEdTech Cartography.
Howarth (2010) says using metaphors is essential in the process of coalition building for policy development. The use of metaphorical imagery aims to “create analogical relations” (p. 32) to bring disparate perspectives into common understanding. Using simplified imagery as examples can create a tangible way to understand more complex topics. Metaphors are a key cognitive function for understanding and have been studied extensively for their use in communication and their role in shaping our thinking and worldviews (Lakoff, 2014). Employing metaphor, then, is an effective way to synthesize and make sense of findings.
A common metaphor for goals and processes is that of a destination. The research question seeks to find ways to become more socially just in academic culture through policy using open scholarship. This is both a goal and a process.
The basic shape of the whole map follows the shape of Middle Earth as drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher in 1954-1955 (Tolkien, 1954/1999). While I am great fan of the Lord of the Rings epic storytelling about triumph over evil, I felt redrawing Middle Earth to map #FemEdTech cartography would be appropriate as the stories could use more female and non-binary, non-gender conforming heroes. To further highlight this remix of the map, I flipped the orientation horizontally, so the access comes from the east and not the west. This flip is a deliberate recognition of the valued scholarship that can come from other sources than the typical Eurocentric “western” perspectives. As discussed in chapter 4, the major categories in the #FemEdTech dataset for values activities, policy design, and implementation are themed based the Feminist Principles of the Internet, namely movement, access, expression, embodiment, and economy (APC, 2020a).
Values Activity: Movement From Upstream to DownstreamThe #FemEdTech open community is part of a larger social movement that aims to shape public space online and the policies that govern the Internet. The movement of the #FemEdTech scholarly community is represented by the river as part of a governance process. This movement is metaphorically drawn as the flow of the river from values towards the code of conduct. Ansell et al. (2017) described collaborative policy development using the stream metaphor, where the design is upstream and the implementation is downstream.
As Barad (2007) indicates, “values are integral to the nature of knowing and being” (p. 370) which is essential in policy making. Many organizations create policy based on statements of values and ethics but are less transparent about how their values and ethics statements are created and revised. The flow of the water from values towards the code of conduct continues through the entire #FemEdTech cartography and makes its way through a variety of diverse terrain and back up to the reservoir of values from where it began.
The values section of the map, indicated by a compass on the top left of the page represents the policy design process for the #FemEdTech community. The activity of gathering inspiration and resources is both to create a grounded code of conduct and is also the formation of a movement. This movement seeks to “challenge the operations of power and privilege within our shared spaces” (FemEdTech, 2019k, para. 1). The code of conduct is designed to guide curators who tweet from @FemEdTech and moderation of the #FemEdTech open space. This is the policy implementation.
Like many other binaries and hierarchies, Ansell et al. (2017) assert that policy design and implementation is a false dichotomy. This problematizing is core to critical policy analysis which interrogates values and ideals from both the dominant normative perspective, in addition to “marginal practices” (Howarth, 2010, p. 328). All actors involved in policy design and implementation must be part of an ongoing conversation about the problems, goals, tools, strategies, and organizational platforms (Ansell et al., 2017). This means that in academia, academic staff need to be involved in the understanding, articulation, and design of any national or local policy. The bicameral governance system is designed to facilitate conversations about policy which get revisited on an ongoing basis (Jones, 2013).
This is depicted through the flow of the codes of conduct into the ocean where they may swirl and interact in a variety of ways. The scholar ship travels in alignment with the code of conduct bringing it to the shore and port of access to facilitate flow towards expression.
Access and Expression: Documenting, Collecting, and Amplifying NarrativesMapping cartographies as a way of world building is a common theme in the effort to make women’s labour and contributions to history and scientific advancement more visible. Under the category of expression, #FemEdTech seeks to challenge dominant narratives and amplify the histories and contributions of women and non-binary academics. This is also part of the category of access where #FemEdTech considers this a tripartite solution to access: (a) for whom, (b) about whom, and (c) by whom (D’Ignazio & Klein, 2020b). These three components of access can also be described as Lambert (2018) defines open education as (a) redistributive, (b) recognitive, and (c) representational, respectively.
The UN declarations about open access and open educational resources fall primarily in the redistributive category; that is, for whom the materials are meant to be distributed. The UN call for action focuses on making scientific and educational materials readily available to everyone, not just those select few who have individual or institutional access. These policies are designed to create a shift towards more equitable practices, but they only address the first component of Lambert’s (2018) social justice framework, redistributive, or material for whom. Dissemination of dominant narratives is not a sufficient lever towards socially just practices. If we are just distributing the same stories without allowing other perspectives, then we are not addressing social justice. If we are describing this in metaphorical terms, redistributive justice means allowing everyone access to the map and the content represented therein. Access to the map is not sufficient. We must also ensure equitable access for people to draw the map (“by whom”) and inform what stories belong on the map (“about whom”). These last two are what Lambert’s social justice framework would describe as representational and recognitive, respectively.
Lambert describes representational justice for “those whose voices are lacking in open discussion and whose contributions are absent” (as cited in Bell, 2020, para. 3). The image of the ukulele represents the analogy Lamb (2019) realized at the #OER19 music making conference session. The ukulele is a common instrument at educational technology conferences due to its portability and there were many at the session that Lamb led at #OER19. Lamb (2019) describes how easy it is to drown out other voices and how privileged voices need to recognize how much space they occupy to ensure everyone is equally involved. On the #FemEdTech cartography this is depicted by the deliberate placement of the ukulele between the words access and expression.
The most significant result from this study is the tension between access and expression. My previous assumption had been that if a scholar makes their material available as an open resource then they will be able to shift the narratives. However, access is not just about availability for redistribution. Access includes the privilege to contribute to the conversation. My initial interpretation of expanding scholarship under Boyer’s (1990) reimagining scholarship focused on the tenured professor and what was considered valued scholarship within the discipline. I was imagining this as a call for expanded forms of scholarship, like arts-based and multi-modal or networked forms of research to be valued as symbolic capital. The findings and deeper analysis helped me discover that symbolic capital is a greater barrier to cultural shift than I had previously imagined. Hill Collins (2000) describes this as the “matrix of domination” (p. 18), citing Crenshaw’s first use of the term “intersectionality” (p. 35) as part of her definition. The multiple sites of oppression for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) women and non-binary scholars have systemic structural barriers, in the form of laws, policies, and embedded practices. As Brookfield (2014) states, “these structural mechanisms make societal inequity appear normal” (p. 420). That is, the structural barriers normalize inequalities—they make inequalities tolerable and eventually customary. Therefore, it is important to target systemic mechanisms rather than merely toiling at individual level.
The disciplinary and hegemonic barriers Hill Collins (2000) describes align with Bourdieu’s (1988) description of cultural and social capital, where the implementation of policies and circulation of oppressive ideas become ingrained in practice (D’Ignazio & Klein, 2020b). That is, practices are reproduced in various iterations of policy development and refinement. As evident from the policy discussion section, there are deliberate actions that can be undertaken to curb or disrupt these disciplinary and hegemonic norms, however, these are completely theoretical musings if the systemic barriers do not even allow BIPOC women and non-binary scholars on the metaphorical ship.
The scholar ship on the drawn map is showing various scholars with their distinctive vantage points representing their situated knowledges (Haraway, 1988). They are embarking upon the bay of access. In order to allow more expression, there needs to be access to more ships into the bay but their unique expressions should be permitted and integrated. That is, diverse scholars’ contributions and narratives of lived experience be accepted on equal footing.
The structures in postsecondary are not just disproportionately biased against the scholarship of BIPOC, women, and non-binary but it’s more difficult for these scholars to even get to a position of employment within the university (Rollock, 2019). This is why D’Ignazio and Klein’s (2020b) definition of feminism is most relevant because recognizing who has power and who does not is the key to opening scholarship.
Reclaim History and Build New NarrativesThe lines on the map in Figure 43, represent the recognitive justice that highlight the stories about those who have been excluded. The drawing of pathways and streams are akin to what Ahmed (2017) would call feminist memory or “desire lines” (p. 15). Ahmed (2017) is specifically describing her commitment to cite women as a form of world building. Building a more socially just world means using more socially inclusive materials, where the materials in this case are the scholarly work of women. Sara Thomas (2019b) described this world building as the heroic work of storytellers to venture into dark overgrown thickets to cut away the brush in order to rescue the tales of women in history. Her band of storytellers reshaped the world through the editing of Wikipedia. Essentially, this is an attempt to redress the contributions made to various knowledgebases. It is world rebuilding.
This world building is essential since the current academic knowledge system is, in the description of Albornoz et al. (2018), “unjust and uneven as it centers and prioritizes knowledge production by anglo-speaking male researchers in North America and Europe through international journals” (p. 9). As the dominant stories are marked by blue paths of predominantly male histories, there are untold red paths that are links to not-yet-created or recognized content in Wikipedia, and other readily accessible sites. The river of adjacent networks is represented by the flows of blue rivers along the map. Above the word expression is the red path representing one of many invisible narratives that require shaping. Many of the people in the map are dressed in red, representing one of #FemEdTech’s adjacent networks, the Wiki Women in Red. This organization, like Whose Knowledge, aims to increase the number of biographies about and for women in English speaking Wikipedia (2020).
Similar to Thomas’s #OER19 conference presentation, many use Wikipedia editing as a teaching and learning activity. As hooks (1994) quotes Mohanty in Teaching to Transgress, resistance lies in self-conscious engagements with dominant, normative discourses and representations and the active creation of oppositional analytic and cultural spaces. Resistance that is random and isolated is clearly not as effective as that which is mobilized through systematic politicized practices of teaching and learning. Uncovering and reclaiming subjugated knowledge is one way to lay claims to alternative histories. But these knowledges need to be understood and defined pedagogically, as questions of strategy and practice as well as of scholarship, in order to transform educational institutions radically. (p. 22) The purpose of these organizations is to challenge these dominant narratives through editing Wikipedia, because it remains a popular and trusted source of knowledge by the masses. Similarly, #FemEdTech holds these values of expression core to their code of conduct as they provide an open space to collect and distribute narratives.
Embodiment: Expression on the Internet Comes at a CostProviding spaces for personal experiences to shift the culture and affect the dominant narratives holds a lot of promise through the democratization that the Internet can provide. However, a great number of tools and platforms on the Internet pose numerous risks (APC, 2020d).
The monetization of activity on the Internet from various platforms raises ethical issues around data, privacy, and consent. Using tools like Twitter to build community can be double edged sword for expression. On one hand, it is extremely easy and powerful to connect to other like-minded individuals merely through a hashtag. On the other hand, it similarly provides easy access to some actors who may not wish to engage in meaningful discourse but rather use the platform to harass, belittle, or threaten violence (APC, 2020q; Stewart, 2016). Twitter is not a public utility or open source platform; rather, its model is premised on the extraction of online behavioural data for profit, also known as surveillance capitalism (Zuboff, 2019). Twitter’s decisions to allow dangerous and violent trolls a place to spread hate speech, spread disinformation, or threaten violence is not based upon a public good but rather an economic order that claims human experiences as free raw material for commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales (Zuboff, 2019). This issue is paramount to faculty members attempting to work in the open as there is an inherent tension between openness and privacy (FemEdTech, 2019a; Scott, 2019a). On the #FemEdTech cartography, the landscape becomes rough and inhospitable terrain, the topology showing the body of a woman and a face obscured by a mask and sunglasses being scanned for facial recognition. A nearby cell phone tower has a giant eye surveilling the landscape, recording bodies, locations, thoughts, and ideas. The eye flames with menace, similar to the eye of Sauron in Mordor from the Lord of the Rings (Tolkien, 1954/1999). In other contexts, a similar gazing stare has also been referred to as the panopticon, a term coined by Jeremy Bentham, expanded by Michel Foucault, and is an entire discipline unto itself called surveillance studies (Browne, 2015).
It may seem hyperbolic to describe corporate digital tools as analogous to the eye of Sauron but the use of technology as a platform for profit instead of a tool for liberation is so pervasive in education that it may be too subtle. How corporations extract value from user data and the myriad of ways this data is used at best to market, at worst to stereotype means that consent over data use and reuse is imperative. All citizens, including scholars, teachers, and students deserve to have agency of choice about “what aspects of their public or private lives to share online” (APC, 2020b, para 1.). Policies that promote this user agency create socially just practices. The #FemEdTech code of conduct is designed with the participant agency as one of its core values. How #FemEdTech as a group attempts to displace the role of surveillance capitalism using open source tools is revisited in the next section.
Economy: The Role of Labour and Open SourceConcerns about surveillance capitalism raise issues that were often tweeted in conjunction with the adjacent network #EthicalEdTech. The use of proprietary educational technology is a growing concern that does not centre care in teaching but rather shifts focus on the ease of automating academic integrity (Bali, 2020b; Morris & Stommel, 2017). The open scholarly community that share resources through Twitter and blog posts are often reflected in the values of open shown by #FemEdTech. Some of the open work is invisible, especially in contributing to teaching resources, like OER creation, editing, and reviewing (Campbell, 2019b; Weller, 2019). Often this work is done in the service of students despite very little symbolic capital officially conferred through institutional channels. Most OER creators, editors, and reviewers contribute to open practices because of their value alignment and not because they are institutionally rewarded or recognized (Cronin, 2019). Making education accessible is a requirement for a socially just society (UNESCO, 2019). Important work must be rewarded through material and symbolic capital and cannot remain invisible. Institutional policies and processes must embed recognition and reward of open practices if they really do value inclusion and accessibility for their students.
Labour is represented on the #FemEdTech cartography by the woman in red carrying a small child as she works on a computer. #FemEdTech amplifies these strained and exhausted voices. Social capital is increased across the network garnering a lot of respect for those who work to make tools, platforms, research, and learning materials open. Under normal circumstances, women perform more than three times as much unpaid labour than men (Oxfam, 2020). It could be argued that from March to July of 2020, not much has been normal and that women’s unpaid labour undoubtably increased as indicated by the productivity decrease due to COVID-19 (FemEdTech, 2020). This topic is further explored in the future research section.
In chapter 2, one direct approach to foster open platforms proposed was the creation of the #FemEdTech open web site. This site is a treasure of narratives that are not bound by exploitative profit schemes. Additional issues around labour in #FemEdTech are far ranging and overlap, as do all the categories on the major theme of expression and access. Frequently the work of BIPOC women and non-binary scholars are undervalued, under reported, or entirely erased. Recognizing the value of emotional labour in addition to excellent high-quality scholarship is a key principle when rebuilding and reshaping the world.
Collaborative Policy MakingOn the #FemEdTech cartography, the rivers and streams flow through pathways and eventually cycle back up toward the values so they can flow back down through movement to the code of conduct. Policies are “instruments of epistemic governance” (Albornoz et al., 2018, p. 2). As the rivers collect the perspectives from various stakeholders they pass through all the principles on their way to reiterate the creation of new values. This cycle on the map is meant to be shown in a way that highlights the interconnectedness and overlaps instead of the traditional binary of design versus implementation dichotomy. This building of joint ownership and trust can contribute to creating policies that are representative of the culture. If there is any shifting of the academic culture to happen, it requires the full participation of all stakeholders who are affected by the policy. It is only by participation of all who are involved in the academy that the value set generated could be reflective of each person. Implied in this proposition is the idea that these reflected values will have to be revisited and revised fluidly and constantly. Opportunities to engage in critical dialogue about difficult topics can make room for differences in academic perspectives, as long as the conversations adhere to the existing set of principles that require respect and care. If these core principles remain intact, adaptive implementation is possible to address emerging problems and opportunities. This is noble in theory but challenging in practice and will be discussed in the limitations and future research sections. Implications For this research the operational definition of open scholarship should be expanded to include all aspects of social justice: redistributive, recognitive, and representational. Open is not truly open unless it is inclusive. Like layers of an onion, as I peeled back the skin expecting to find solutions that lay within the distribution it is now abundantly clear that the problem exists at the point of access for representative and recognitive justice. More BIPOC women and non-binary scholars need to be given the material and social capital along with the open platform to reframe narratives, tell their truths, and contribute to the collective histories of this time. How the UNESCO OER resolution gets implemented is yet to be finalized, however the creation of coalitions to oversee the design and implementation in member states, institutions, and organizations is promising. The coalition has potential to use a participatory network model to bring diverse voices together to achieve the resolution’s goals.
Recognizing the importance of symbolic capital’s effect on academics’ behaviour, there are some clear influences policy could play in promoting successful implementation of the UN resolutions. At the institutional level, universities and faculty bargaining units could articulate sanctioned behaviour around decision-making about promotion and tenure committees to broaden the definitions of scholarly excellence. Presently, even when there are inclusive language around what constitutes inclusive scholarship, in the spheres where these principles are enacted (like the tenure and promotion committees), unequal preference and weight is given to more conventional academic work (Acker & Webber, 2016; Blackmore & Kandiko, 2011; Dawson et al., 2019; Dennin et al., 2017; Jones, 2013). The result is that entrenched practices continue to be preferred and rewarded. New and diverse scholars are initiated and groomed to adopt past conventions.
Boyer (1990) invited the academy to reconsider scholarship three decades ago and while some practices have changed there is still skepticism that anything other than research and publications ultimately determines what happens during decision-making at hiring, promotion and tenure committees (Blackmore & Kandiko, 2011). This adherence to the status quo in the academy is another barrier to any shift towards a more socially just society. There is a real possibility that the UN sustainable goals may not be sufficient to shift the world towards more socially just practices either. UN sustainable development goals are still rooted in traditional notions of economy which reinforce status quo through the matrix of domination (Hill Collins, 2000). Scholarship cannot be described as open unless it actively supports contributions from and about women or BIPOC and the communities they support (D’Ignazio & Klein, 2020b).