As part of the research/preparation/blind panic for my #oer15 keynote I’ve been having a closer look at the origins of open washing and in particular greenwashing. The seven sins of greenwashing website defines greenwashing as
“the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”
As many have pointed out, there are many similarities with open education. Just replace environmental with open and that definition works well.
Maybe it’s just my inner Presbyterian guilt, but I have also been slightly obsessed with their seven sins of greenwashing. These are the sin(s) of:
- the hidden tradeoff
- no proof
- worshipping false labels
- lesser of two evils
Again lots of parallels with open education practice/resources/products/platforms.
The theme of #oer15 is mainstreaming, religious connotations such as sin are, I think, very detrimental to mainstream practice. Sometimes you do have to scare people into action – particularly when you are trying to save the planet – but for every day educators, I feel we have to be a bit more realistic in the trade offs we make in relation to open education. Surely it is better to do a little openly than nothing at all because you are too frightened of doing the wrong thing and the OER police coming to get you.
So whilst I hold no truck with fibbing, no proof, vagueness, irrelevance I think we have to engage somewhat with “worshipping false labels” and a lot with “the lesser of two evils”. I know that practically every day I make a trade off with the lesser of two or even three evils. Does that make me a sinner, less of an open practitioner? I don’t think so. Does it make me think about my practice and how I could use more open, open stuff? Yes, of course it does.
Mainstreaming is about compromise which can be frustrating but open is still a scary word to some people and a little trade off can led to some big gains later down the line. Perhaps it’s all a bit Star Wars where we have to see things “from a certain point of view” but again that’s what mainstreaming is all about.
I’ll be sharing more next week in Cardiff – so please hold off striking me down with lightning bolts until then. if you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments.