Listen, Learn, Act: Lifelong Learning

We often hear the expression “listening and learning”. While listening and learning are two very important pieces in advancing social justice, there’s something critical missing — action. The world we live in requires to go beyond passive acts of listening and learning, and lean into action and growing.  We have an opportunity with open education to reimagine education broadly — from our pedagogies and practises to the larger economic, social, and political barriers to education — by making educational content easily accessible to anyone, shifting learning from “traditional education in brick and mortar institutions to a more flexible and accessible approach for learning for all.” (Dr. Fawzi Baroud, 2017)

Pause for a moment and think about the work you do professionally. Now think about what that looks like outside of work. How do you advocate for equity in your personal life? How do you challenge yourself outside of work? What role can you play in larger social justice movements?

To me, equity in a teaching and learning context means recognizing our positionalities in the classroom and making adjustments to imbalances in power. It involves respect and reciprocity between teacher and student – as they act in both roles throughout the course.

“If we fear mistakes, doing things wrongly, constantly evaluating ourselves, we will never make the academy a culturally diverse place where scholars and the curricula address every dimension of that difference.”Even with the best of intentions, DEI approaches can fail. How do we hold ourselves accountable? As bell hooks said in Teaching to Transgress, “If we fear mistakes, doing things wrongly, constantly evaluating ourselves, we will never make the academy a culturally diverse place where scholars and the curricula address every dimension of that difference.”

Lifelong learning starts to have a ripple effect when you grow and exchange with others, which is why professional development has a more fruitful impact when you seek mentors, or when you seek a group where you can actually have discussion. This is when you can begin to see the potential, but also have greater potential to really change things.  Being open to learning, unlearning, feedback & change.

You may be asking yourself, how does this all fit into OER? I often think back to the CARE Framework. Authored by Lisa Petrides, Douglas Levin, and C. Edward Watson, this framework seeks to “be explicit about the values that we think are core to the OER movement, including the practices of individuals and organizations that are involved in the production, dissemination, and use of OER.”  These four core values – contribute, attribute, release, and empower – seek to increase participation in the open community by recognizing contributions from collaborators, offering tools for sharing OER, and empowering both students and educators by promoting the participation of new and non-traditional voices in the creation and adoption of OER. (Petrides et. al)

I like the idea of the CARE framework and oftentimes think of CARE as Connecting, Attributing, Reflecting, and Empowering.  I believe connection is the number one value and practice that makes open practices more equitable. When we connect with one another and learn about each other we, as Richard Wagamese writes, “we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time.” Next is attribution. We cannot do the work we do without collaboration. Collaboration without acknowledging others’ knowledge and input is plagiarism. Attribution is more than just citing someone else – in many cases, correctly attributing or citing lessons learned to their original authors should be recognized not just as a courtesy, but an opportunity to reflect and acknowledge the lived experiences of the author and those around them. We then move onto reflection, as learning without reflection is just passive consumption of knowledge. Lastly is empowerment, which directly relates to attribution. While attribution acknowledges the lived experiences of both individuals and groups, empowerment takes this recognition a step further by addressing the social, cultural, political, and economic factors that affect education. This empowers people and groups to take part in decision-making and reclaim agency and control over their lives. (WHO)

As you continue reading this guide, think about the ways in which you may already practice the CARE framework and make note of them. Next, identify where there may be gaps in your practice and ways you can contribute.

Pause & Reflect on the Historical and Modern Practices in Education

  • What is the history of higher education in your local area?
  • Reflect on the past three years. What lessons have you learned about social justice practices in your institution?
  • What values is your current understanding and practice rooted in? What hopes for change do you have for an equitable teaching and learning in higher education tomorrow?
  • What does equity in teaching and learning mean to you today?

Action Plan: Transform your Practices

  • Part 1 – Browse the CARE Framework to reflect your current OER practices. Do your current practices have the intended impact? Can changing approaches or branching out enhance the impact of your work?
  • Part 2 – Plan for one equity-centered professional development opportunity (e.g. online webinar, department meeting, in-person conference, asynchronous course, etc). What types of professional development opportunities are available? Do they support an equitable school environment?
    • While attending: pay attention to the values being communicated, the voices presenting, the design of the space? What is missing to make it truly equitable? For example, are masks required and basic accessibility accommodations provided unprompted? Are a wide range of people represented in both guests and speakers? Is the space welcoming and accessible?
    • After attending: make sure to apply at least one aspect of critical reflection into your own equity practice.

Find an editable worksheet here.


hooks, bell. (1994). Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. Routledge.


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Making Ripples: A Guidebook to Challenge Status Quo in OER Creation Copyright © 2023 by Rebus Community (Kaitlin Schilling, Apurva Ashok, Jördis Weilandt) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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