Welcome and thank you for your interest in the Foreground Indigenous Perspectives in Open Education research project. Funded by the CARL Academic Research Grant, this two-year research project is seeking to engage with Canadian Indigenous OE creators, service providers, and Indigenous-identifying community to better understand perspectives, interests, tensions, and barriers around OER.

Open education (OE) includes a blend of strategies, technologies, and networked communities that make the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all. Due to the focus on transparency, community, accessibility, and affordability, OE activities are often framed as a part of a social justice movement. Within this context, open educational resources (OER) have great potential to develop culturally responsive supports for the sharing of Indigenous Knowledges, language revitalization, and cultural resurgence that is in keeping with Indigenous communities’ advocacy efforts and takes into account concerns about intellectual property and ownership. However, without a greater understanding of Indigenous communities and stakeholder needs in the area, the motivations of the OE movement can replicate inequities existing within the very foundations of educational practice instead of transforming and reforming the dominant system.

While there are recent examples of Indigenous Knowledges OER (e.g., Indigenous Canada MOOC) and research on practices for creating Indigenous Knowledges OER (e.g. Kayla Lar-son, Krista McCracken and Skylee-Storm Hogan, UBC Okanagan Indigenous Knowledges & Open Education Pending Edited Book) current knowledge of the interest, need, capacity, and barriers for Indigenous communities and stakeholders engaging in OE work remains woefully inadequate, hindering many broader OE
initiatives, organizations, and networks from understanding where OE can support Indigenous engagement. A fundamental problem in OE is its replication of colonial notions of ownership and knowledge transfer. Open education is rooted in making information objects freely available rather than considering knowledge as a process of being and living – a fundamental difference between Indigenous knowledge and colonial practices of information ownership. In addition, open education has the potential to replicate past trauma of educational institutions by asserting current practices in the OE community that may be counter to cultural expression, traditional knowledge protocols, and the genuine interest and benefit of the Indigenous peoples the work may be seeking to uplift. As stated by Adam, et. al (2019) “…we need to critically interrogate in whose eyes open education is deemed “valuable;” whose knowledge is being foregrounded and whose view of reality is being entrenched?”

This research proposal seeks to identify the gaps in the OE communities’ understanding of Indigenous perspectives, interests, tensions, and barriers around OER. The research methods for this study include a survey and semi-structured interviews. The survey study population will be faculty, staff, students, and community involved in the creation of Canadian Indigenous OER in higher education. The survey will provide data related to the breadth of Canadian Indigenous OER development, support models, the role of Indigenous community in the creation/support process, and provide an overview of barriers to OER development in this space.

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