The Internet, education, and oppositional speech
WBUR’s The Connection reported this morning on China’s deadline today for bloggers to register with the government, and discussed political blogging worldwide with the Berkman Center’s Rebecca MacKinnon on their show “Cyber Dissidents”. The show highlights how China and other countries are cracking down on oppositional speech on the Internet, and also discusses how Cisco and Microsoft are providing technical support for such crackdowns in return for access to markets.
As goes oppositional speech in general on the Internet, so I believe goes the fate of open educational resources such as MIT OCW; the pedagogies that underpin many of the materials being shared depend heavily on space made for oppositional speech. Institutions and countries that do not allow for oppositional speech will not be well positioned to make use of many open educational materials, and open educational materials created within authoritarian environments will be undermined by the oppositional voice of other open materials. The radical dependence on oppositional speech is what makes open sharing a very political undertaking. Seen from the perspective Amartya Sen presents in Development as Freedom, open educational resources enhance both the freedoms of access to educational materials directly and freedoms of speech by providing content and pedagogical practices that value oppositional speech.