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The dark side of the knowledge commons?: Open educational media and tensions surrounding autonomy and novel spheres of control

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  • Education
  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


Enabled by ICTs, the open provision of educational resources (OER), for consultation, use and re-modifcation by communities of users for non-commercial purposes, is associated with a movement that emerged in the early 2000s and which has its roots on liberal education and on the principle of justice located in transfer of non material goods. Following the uptake of many institutional projects ranging from lecture podcasts, curricular materials and free online courses - both complementing and challenging the legitimacy of archives that reside in other public culture domains, as learning resources - international NGOs, funding and educational policy bodies, have been working towards standardizing the ways in which these resources are created and shared. Combining notions of mediation with cultural political economy and the philosophy of education, this paper aims to introduce a critique of the open access/content movement in education, leading to three core paradoxes: a) a novel strand of techno-legal and cultural determinism surrounding the education commons b) the simultaneous circumvention and endorsement of institutional authorities in education; c) and the concurrent questioning and privileging of a market-driven education economy.

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