Open Access Day 5: Teaching Open Access

Philo_medievThis week we’ve talked about what open access is, how we promote open access at Connecticut College, and how to maintain rights over your intellectual property. This is a teaching blog, so I’d like this last post to focus on educating students about open access.

Our students today are the scholars of tomorrow. Promoting open access is important if we wish the publishing landscape to change (if you’ve been reading the blog this week, chances are you agree some change is necessary). Here are a few ideas for educating students about the open access movement and its principles, but I know my creative colleagues can add to the list! Your contributions are very welcome – just comment on the post.

  • Have open discussions about copyright, intellectual property and open access in your classroom. What might this look like? I often link this to a discussion of academic integrity, participating in a scholarly conversation, and the students’ roles in that conversation. Not only does this change the discussion of plagiarism from finger-wagging to an intellectual exercise – a much more valuable way to approach plagiarism – but it also helps students understand why respecting others’ contributions is important and that the practice of citation is critical.
  • Are students struggling to find available resources for their course work? Are they being denied access to research or asked to pay for it? This is a great teaching moment! Talk to your students about why this research is unavailable. Second, it’s an even better time to recommend talking to a librarian and requesting items through our amazing (truly) interlibrary loan system.
  • Are you concerned with issues of inequality and access in your course? Here is a topic that may hit close to home. Unequal access to information not only stymies innovation, but it perpetuates the system that keeps people from the information they need to make important decisions or improve their lives. Students can see this first hand – their access to research is dependent on where they live, where they go to school or work.
  • Involve students in the open access publishing process. Digital Commons started as a platform for open access online journals, and it retains this capability. Students can create and run their own peer reviewed journals here on campus, and we have the tools to make it happen. There is no better way to learn about the scholarly publishing process than to experience it firsthand. View hundreds of student journals from colleges around the country here.

Image credit: Teaching at Paris, in a late 14th-century Grandes Chroniques de France: the tonsured students sit on the floor

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