This site was initially focused on furthering theoretical understanding of OCW activities and helping local projects around OCW use those understandings, and in turn contribute to them. Recent conceptions of this project, however, have included an added dimension: the inclusion of discussion and research on the overlap between open educational resources, particularly open courseware, and the range of accessibility issues, practices and dynamics encompassed by the field of inclusive design (Treviranus, 2010a, 2010b). The author has a developing interest in those places where open scholarship activities intersect with problems of accessibility, resulting in an expansion of the notion of “open” to include creating ways of overcoming barriers to the use of open content that stem from the creation of materials that a significant proportion of the population simply can't see, hear or navigate through.
There are a number of places where concentration on notions of “open” in one area, can realize increased inclusivity in another area. The use of open copyright licenses, for instance, translates into increased ability for transformation of materials into forms that are accessible to a wider population of learners. Likewise, approaches to the design of materials emphasizing accessibility, and hence the inclusion of wider communities in the use of those materials, can expand the impact of open contents.
Research on the mutually reinforcing aspects of these approaches would be valuable, if only to surface areas of mutual interest. It could investigate places in institutional contexts where efforts to provide OCW, for instance, might benefit from collaboration with accessibility efforts, and vice versa. We do not know how faculty, and supporting educational technologists in our institutions, for example, might view or contribute to efforts that explicitly approached such dual goals. Would the combination be viewed as creating further cost barriers, or providing significant off-setting benefits? How cognizant are institutional members of emerging technologies and methods for incorporating crossplatform and individualizable content in the development or translation of educational materials, such as the Fluid Project (www.fluidproject.org
), and how do open notions of return on value feed into these understandings? If one goal of providing open content is to increase the reach of the authors' influence, do authors see access to, for example, the increasing population of aging learners a real benefit? Do their institutions?
This work is in early stages, as part of the author's studies at the Inclusive Design Research Center at the Ontario College of Art and Design (http://idrc.ocad.ca
). The first step is to get a version of the site up and to start iterating. That is what you are viewing now.