Brock to honour open access champions

Fares Belkhiria believes everyone should have access to knowledge.

And, as a strong advocate for the open access movement, the 24-year-old has been doing his part to make that a reality.

Belkhiria has been using his passion to explore open teaching and learning methods during his master’s studies in the Goodman School of Business.

For his efforts to promote the concept on campus, the Tunisian graduate student has been awarded the inaugural Brock University OpenCon Scholarship. The honour will be presented as part of Brock’s International Open Access Week activities taking place between Monday, Oct. 22 and Friday, Oct. 26.

Open learning involves contributing to and using sources that are free to all users.  Belkhiria said the process allows for a shift in the way students all over the world are able to learn.

“Knowledge should not cost more than the actual amount needed for its production,” he said. “People should not have to experience financial burden to pay for additional unnecessary overhead.”

In addition to providing accessible education to all, Belkhiria said the idea of open learning was also directly applicable to the marketing concepts he is studying.

“It is our obsession to look for ways to improve effectiveness and creativity for teams to remain relevant in changing market conditions,” he said. “From the perspective of business, open access materials foster innovation by providing source files that people can continue to improve upon.”

Thanks to the scholarship, Belkhiria will be heading to OpenCon, a three-day conference highlighting open access, open educational resources and open data at York University in Toronto from Nov. 2 to 4.

However, before he travels to the event, Belkhiria will also be taking part in International Open Access Week at Brock. The week’s events include two movie screenings, a webinar and a prize wheel in the James A. Gibson Library.

Belkhiria is particularly excited for the movies, including the Tuesday, Oct. 23 screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, a film about the high financial and social costs of scholarly publishing.

At the screening, Belkhiria will formally receive his scholarship alongside Associate Professor Dolana Mogadime from the Faculty of Education, who will be accepting this year’s Brock University Award for Open Access.

Mogadime, who serves as editor-in-chief of the open access Brock Education: A Journal of Educational Research and Practice, said the award offers a chance to continue to share about the advantages open sources can provide.

“The Brock University Award for Open Access gives me an opportunity to speak to and make known the fact that joining in and contributing to the open access journal movement has been an important longstanding commitment among colleagues, one that is worthy of remembering and celebrating,” she said. “I accept the award knowing I am one of many who are making a contribution to this movement across campus.”

For Elizabeth Yates, Brock’s Liaison and Scholarly Communication Librarian, honouring both winners and staging events each day serves as a culmination of the efforts put on by open access advocates throughout the University.

“We work all year round on services to support open scholarship,” she said. “This week is a time to celebrate that while also offering further examples of the benefits of open access.”

Yates said all members of the Brock community are welcome at the week’s events.

“We are making it as fun as possible with the prize wheel and movie screenings,” she said. “There’s no pressure and it offers a chance to think about something new.”

Belkhiria agreed and said the events offer relevant takeaways for both students and faculty.

“Open access solves many of the issues students are worrying about, including out-dated, hard-to-access and costly resources,” he said. “Faculty members can foster their collaboration together, as well as sharing, editing and customizing resources in order to provide the best educational experiences to their students.”

A full schedule of International Open Access Week activities taking place at Brock University can be found on the event’s web page

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