Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes


Language, Politics and #OER17

1984, Politics and the English Language, vintage Orwell reissues from Random Penguin, Foyles, St Pancras, Camden, London, UK

Vintage Orwell

This blog post started life as a comment on Martin Weller’s post about language and how it affects behaviour and thoughts in Edtech. The comment mysteriously disappeared as I posted it so I thought that I would repost it here and link from Martin’s post. The title of the post “Let’s think inside the box“ made me think about Blackboxing .
Whilst I agreed with many of the ideas in the post, Martin’s statement “But this post isn’t about politics” stopped me short.  I wondered what those of us thinking of making a submission to OER17  would make of this. I have been puzzling for a few weeks about what politics can mean in the context of  “The Politics of Open” theme for OER17, and I guess that others may be doing so too. I think that the concept of politics being broad and interpreted in different contexts will make for a great conference that enriches our understanding of Open Educational Practices and Resources.
So I would like to encourage Martin to think about how his post could be about politics and ‘fit’  OER17 – maybe even rework it as a submission 🙂 I was grateful to him for getting me to think about politics and language and my Scholar Google search turned up 2 corking resources.

  1. Orwell, G., 2005. Politics and the English Language. English, (December 1945), pp.1–9. Available at:
  2. Chomsky, N., 1984. Politics and Language. In Language and Politics. Available at: (search for 471)

My subject discipline was Information Systems (that bears some parallels to Edtech) and in our teaching, we included social and organisational aspects as well the technological ones. Ethics, gender and power were definitely on the curriculum. When we think about education and/or technology without considering the politics – global, national, organisational, personal, interpersonal – we are filtering our understanding and it’s no wonder that our noble aspirations don’t always work out as we would hope. This is why I think the OER17 theme is so exciting – it can help us expand our thinking and our practice.

So it’s back to writing my submission.

#edtech#OER17ethicsgenderlanguageOERopenopen educationpoliticspower

francesbell • October 28, 2016

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  1. Martin Weller October 28, 2016 - 10:39 am Reply

    Thanks Frances, and sorry for the lost comment. The “it isn’t about politics” comment was meant to say I don’t want to get bogged down in discussion about ‘why Hillary is a liar’ or similar because that distracted from the point I wanted to make more about technology in education. In one sense of course, everything is about politics. So perhaps I meant Politics with a capital p rather than politics with a small p.

    • francesbell October 28, 2016 - 10:44 am Reply

      I think that OER17 will mainly be about politics with a small p in the context of Open Ed 🙂

      • Maha Bali November 12, 2016 - 3:22 pm Reply

        I have no idea what they mean by politics of open. Can I admit that? I just assume they think I can speak about it since they invited me to keynote! But I am waiting to see how others interpret it!

        • francesbell November 12, 2016 - 3:33 pm Reply

          I don’t know Aleks Tarkowski but from what I know of Josie, I would imagine she is open to multiple interpretations. I just hope that ‘politics’ fires people up rather than putting them off.

          • Maha Bali November 12, 2016 - 4:10 pm

            The sub-themes are quite accessible… So if we ignore the larger theme 🙂 i think ppl will propose stuff. And hopefully they announce the other keynotes before deadline for CfP I which should indicate direction and encourage ppl to come. Inshallah
            But your post helped me reframe the proposal i am working on w Martin and others from VC (Martin just this morning was encouraging use of conference theme keywords)

          • francesbell November 12, 2016 - 4:23 pm

            I found it helped to think through my frame of ‘politics’ for my submission

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