Clarifying the RIP OER Post

Some have interpreted my post earlier today to mean that the RIP for OER in 2017 is inevitable. THAT’S EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I’M SAYING. The purpose of my post was to get people thinking about what is coming while there’s still time for us to do something about it.

The RIP in 2017 only happens if the field does nothing to produce diagnostic, adaptive OER that support student learning at least as well as the systems produced by big publishers.

Don’t write off OER yet – that is, unless you pan on laying back and doing nothing. I’m certainly committed to continue working for access to the highest quality educational materials for everyone. You should be, too.

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  • Brian Bridges

    Remember when people thought Napster was the wave of the future, that no one would be paying for music within a few years? That all went away when Apple created the iPod and iTunes. They didn’t invent the technology. They just made it easy, and for that people were willing to pay for music.

    The same is true of textbooks. yes, you’re right that OER won’t go away. Free mp3s still abound on the net and, with it’s 55K free albums, still is a wonder. Still, i buy my music on amazon or iTunes. Highly interactive, sophisticated resources that engage students are not cheap to build, and OER will never fully emulate them. There are great open textbooks, but I suspect we’ll never see great, free, interactive textbooks with video, multimedia, and assessments. 

  • drchuck

    I actually think if we were to develop good tools to author engaging OER content, we would see more OER content and better OER content and competitive OER content.  GarageBand enables both free and non-free content to be produced more effectively.  OER will die if we keep funding the same old (as of last week) obsolete approaches to OER content authoring.  Funding agencies need to give their money to some people with a bold vision and the ability to deliver on that vision and they need to do it quickly.

  • Terry McAndrew

    I need to spend time developing this idea properly but, in esscence, it’s the value of the OERs to the academic participants that is the problem.

    For some, OER could be just another source of funding in very difficult times which provides them with time to spend on developing materials and e-skills, but not an opportunity to shift the academic world into more effective sharing. Don’t get me wrong – Academics like sharing, but in a biased way because of how they are employed and valued. Evidence: the low number of those building upon existing resources, and the low number of community developed resources - there is no real gain when the significant credit goes to those disseminating more content ‘outwards’. Improving and enhancing another’s resources, or teaching with the best of them (which must involve some significant scholarship in finding, evaluating and integrating them) has no significant reward: there is no realistic market to improve and enhance an OER continuously as the most recent invividual’s enhancement appears at the bottom of the credits, not the top.  If you write your own (perhaps ‘inspired’ by another OER) and release it you are more likely to get ‘top billing’, just like a journal paper.

    If we were to create a model where we could invest funding in giving students and staff ’credits’ to spend in the marketplace for assembling course materials around a curriculum needs shared between institutions, we might create a real demand for the multimedia textbooks Brian seeks but this would only work for ’big’ OER. Staff involved could share the ‘credit profits’ and the best multimedia textbooks would attract new contributors who will climb on-board something which is clearly proving popular. Sustainable (obviously accessible) OERs would thrive at the expense of ‘box-ticking’ releases which were created to secure funding for a one-off activity: small and nimble OER ‘elements’ could be the indvividual ‘tracks’ similar to iTunes. Compilation albums of OER would appear around common needs but we have to find a way to empower the students to develop the market demands and trade. 

    The music industry has been improved by new business models in competition with each other( e.g. Napster vs iTunes). This only became viable due to new distribution models and technology, but this did not evolve from the resources (music tracks) themselves so OER content is not likely to evolve a successful business model either.

    We need to have each community engaged with OERs in most relevant way: Open Academic Practice needs Academics and their managers to develop the business model for OER use; OERs need the Learning Technologists to trade the ‘learning gains’ from their solutions and the students need to be able to trade/share the value of a solution which worked to teach them a difficult topic/concept.