Sunday, June 5, 2016

For-Profit Involvement with OER

David Wiley has said in a tweet that he will be posting a response later this week to the question I asked in a couple of different ways recently about Lumen's announcement about its deal with SUNY. The question I asked was why Lumen was using LTI to connect the OER they were providing to the LMSs of SUNY. See my previous post or tweets at @sabier for more on that question.

I'm expecting that I'll learn something that I don't know in David's response. There must be something in the way Lumen is configuring their LTI to connect OER with LMSs that I don't quite understand.

But, I think there's another more basic question to be discussed. David talked about it in a recent post of his - the issue of For-Profit involvement with OER.  David said, "it’s impossible to select a single decision rule about the involvement of commercial interests in open education that will be “acceptable” (by whatever metric you care to use) in all cases where it will need to be applied." You can read David's explanation of why he thinks that on his blog.

I think it is possible to make some statements about for-profit involvement with OER. Notice, that I said OER and not 'open education' which is the term David used in his post. There's a difference. I think we can make statements about OER that will be universally true. I think we can say clearly and unequivocally that money can't be changing hands for OER. OER is free. Period. If money is changing hands related to OER then we need to be clear about why the money is changing hands. What value is being exchanged for money. Both individuals (like me) and for-profit companies can earn money for work related to OER, but we need to be explicit about what the value is that we're providing.

If the exchange of money is in any way a barrier or gate or qualifier for access to the OER, the OER is no longer OER; it's something else, but it's not OER. When we publish OER are we making it as easy as possible to do all of the 5 Rs or are we hedging a little? I touched on this subject six months ago, and I hope to say more about it this next week. Your thoughts are welcome.

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