When Inclusion Excludes ….

….. A counter narrative of open online education

This is the title of a new paper, co-authored with Mariana Funes and published today in Learning Media and Technology, by Taylor & Francis Online.


Open education aspires to democratize education, promote inclusion and effect change through social justice. These aspirations are difficult to realise in open, online environments, which enable multiple, and often conflicting, perspectives. This paper proposes a counter-narrative that surfaces certain operational norms of the internet and foregrounds their exclusionary nature. We offer an illustrative inventory of some social media interactional patterns to examine communication used in open online education communities. This examination leads us to conclude that language online is subject to a dialectical tension that both includes and excludes. We conclude that a different language is needed in open online educational environments; one that embraces exclusionary structures and strategic ambiguity, as well as the aspirations to further democratise education via digital means.

This paper is the culmination of 17 months’ work with Mariana and many long and wide ranging discussions. I have found the paper really interesting and thought-provoking to work on, and have particularly enjoyed collaborating with Mariana.

The final version of the paper is on the Learning, Media and Technology website – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439884.2018.1444638

But in line with  Taylor and Francis’ Green Open Access policy (https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/sharing-your-work/) we are able to post here the ‘preprint’, i.e. the final, accepted version of the paper, before being formatted by Learning, Media and Technology.  This is virtually identical (bar the formatting and some tightening of reference citations) to the published article.

When Inclusion Excludes MF:JM 280218

We are very grateful to Stephen Downes, Lisa Lane and Carmen Tschofen for reviewing the paper for us before submission and making suggestions for improvement. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for further detailed feedback, which helped us arrive at the final version.

We would welcome any comments or dialogue about the paper.