Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For-Profit Involvement in OER - Part 4


I’m genuinely glad that Lumen is doing what they’re doing, and I applaud the announcement this past Monday of the Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources. But, I also still have significant reservations about the particular model that’s being used to provide access to the OER. And, I don’t think discussing the model of delivery and the specific nature of how and to where the money flows is merely ‘academic,’ as Dr. Wiley described it in his comment on my previous post, For-Profit Involvement in OER - Part 3. It may be that the Lumen model is exactly what’s needed at this stage in the development of OER, but I’m concerned that without a clearer understanding of the details (like documentation other than what’s on Git hub and a support network other than Lumen staff), we might be missing greater opportunity. Bluntly, I don’t want the purposes of a for-profit company spoiling the possibilities.


The really great thing about Lumen’s approach is that it is providing significant immediate savings to students and thereby enhancing the sustainability of the institutions where they’re studying. (Go ahead and quote me.) The for-profit textbook publishers have created a worldwide orchard with a whole lot of low hanging fruit.


Here’s the distinctions I want to make:


1.  Putting the OER in a separate platform and connecting to the LMS via LTI is only really useful if you want more money going to those that run the separate platform instead of keeping the money for running the LMS. I’m pretty sure that Lumen is already working with Instructure and other LMS purveyors to blur that line even more, which will come with the argument that that is the way of most opportunity which is Dr. Wiley's proclaimed rationale for Lumen being a for-profit entity.


2. The supporting functions that are necessary for the continued flourishing of OER can be provided by a for-profit entity, but the best value to community colleges, students and faculty will be when they are provided on a fee for service basis. The structure of the entity providing the supporting functions might be for-profit corporate, for-profit individuals,  non-profit corporate, consortia of governmental orgs, or combinations of the above. The particular mix of combinations matters, too.  The ultimate factoring to per student does not necessarily correlate to quantities. Sometimes it will be cheaper per student for a class of twenty-five students at a four year institution and sometimes it will be cheaper per student for all of the Algebra 1 students in the statewide CC system. As institutions including administration, IT support, faculty, libraries, student services, and students all come to understand all of the moving parts of OER, the institutions will better be able to determine which payment method for OER support is best for their particular circumstances.

As Dr. Wiley has pointed out, there is a need for all types of support. Different recipes produce different cookies. For now, cheers to Lumen and the Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources.

5 comments:

  1. "Putting the OER in a separate platform and connecting to the LMS via LTI is only really useful if you want more money going to those that run the separate platform instead of keeping the money for running the LMS."

    While there are some benefits of the copy and paste model of delivering OER directly within the LMS, having supported faculty and students via that model for a couple of years I can attest that there are serious downsides to the model as well. On the other hand, having supported faculty and students via the LTI-based model I can say unequivocally that there are also benefits to faculty and students from the LTI approach. Having spent a few years with both approaches, it's clear to me that the benefits of the LTI approach significantly outweigh those of the cut and paste approach. It's fine for you to have a different opinion about which set of benefits is most beneficial, but it feels intellectually dishonest for you to claim that there are no benefits to faculty and students of the LTI approach (which is how I read your statement that the LTI approach is "only really useful" for redirecting dollars).

    "I'm pretty sure that Lumen is already working with Instructure and other LMS purveyors to blur that line even more..."

    Lumen is a member of the the IMS Global Learning Consortium and collaborates on the development of standards like LTI and Common Cartridge with other members of that educational technology community in order to improve the interoperability of learning systems. Is that what you were trying to say? In the future, when you're uncertain or have a question ("I'm pretty sure..."), would you please send an email to do some basic fact checking before publishing potentially inaccurate information and hoping I'll correct errors in a comment? This is not the first time you've made this kind of statement in this series of posts.

    "The supporting functions that are necessary for the continued flourishing of OER can be provided by a for-profit entity, but the best value to community colleges, students and faculty will be when they are provided on a fee for service basis."

    There will no doubt be some institutions where that is true. But as a universal claim, as you have stated it here, this is patently false. One of the reasons Lumen typically uses a per-student fee model is that our partner colleges have made it very clear that they have a strong preference for that model. If they didn't, it would be silly for us to use it.

    "As institutions including administration, IT support, faculty, libraries, student services, and students all come to understand all of the moving parts of OER, the institutions will better be able to determine which payment method for OER support is best for their particular circumstances."

    I wholeheartedly agree.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I would welcome an intellectually honest feature by feature comparison of the Lumen platform / LTI presentation of OER and the presentation of OER within an LMS.

    My Anthony Crispino like comment -"I’m pretty sure that Lumen is already working with Instructure and other LMS purveyors to blur that line even more" was meant to represent one of the many future possibilities of for-profit companies involved in OER. There are likely even more possibilities than I can conjure.

    And, of course, there will be institutions that prefer per student pricing of services related to OER, especially in the beginning.

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  3. What are the "possibilities" for a non-profit approach to OER development (infrastructure, institutional services, etc). Like you, I am generally supportive of Lumen's work and especially grateful to David for his leadership in the field. But we all agree on the "different recipes prodice different cookies" thing; and we probably all see the sense of a non-profit and/or publicly-funded approach to OER integration into education, especially public education. But as a professor, I feel lost about who to look to for leaders on this. Who are the public education activists working on sustainable non-profit infrastructure for the OER movement? I appreciate the way your posts have opened the conversation. I wish I understood more about all of this, but I really like the way you and David seem to challenge each other while listening to each other, and and the way you both keep students at the center of your ideas.

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  4. I think David & Lumen's work is great for two reasons: 1) it's actually, you know, doing something, instead of just talking about it (which is what I tend to do) 2) it addresses very practical needs and issues for teachers that don't require them to completely change everything they do. And this last point is key to the tensions - I think sometimes we (the OER community, ed tech people) do want to radically change how people teach. But that becomes too big a jump - once you've completely changed society this will be great. I've commented elsewhere though that we don't want open textbooks to be the LMS of OER - they seemed like a sensible stepping point but ended up being the end point. So it's getting that balance right, and we only know that by progressing with different types of experiment that include Lumen and also Robin's excellent use of open pedagogy.

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    1. Does 'be the LMS of OER' mean that you think that LMSs have reached their evolutionary end point? I don't - http://developingprofessionalstaff-mpls.blogspot.com/2016/01/oer-and-learning-management-system.html

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