Friday, September 16, 2016

Paid vs OER in K12

My previous post looked at Readworks' David Ciulla's conflation of OER and Free resources. This post looks at Paid educational resources (PER) vs OER. Remember, OER are free, but free resources aren't necessarily OER.

Here, again, is the Hewlett Foundation definition of OER - "OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge." [1]

The essential part of that definition is that they have 'an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.' That's how the quality gets kept up to date without the need to pay publishers to pay teachers and professors to update the curriculum. Publishers don't have a secret group of magic wizards locked away in a book shelf lined room somewhere that do the editing of the content that publishers use to extract huge sums of money from cash starved public school districts. The real 'secret'-  publishers hire K12 teachers, and retired K12 teachers, and higher ed professors, and professors who used to teach in higher ed, and PhDs who hope to teach in higher ed to do the editing and revising. Of course, the publishers are going to say that we need them, the publishers, to organize that rascally group of editors and revisers, and that was sorta true back in the 20th Century and before. Not so today.

Yesterday, in a piece entitled New Open Ed. Group Vows to Battle Commercial Publishers for K-12 Contracts Sean Cavanagh said that Open Up Resources is going to pay for the editing and revising of their OER content by offering professional development to K-12 systems; printing and distribution services; and support and maintenance for districts seeking to use digital versions of the open materials. That's a solid plan. Open Up Resources will have even more chance for success if they encourage K12 teachers to collaborate with the higher ed professors at their higher ed teacher prep institutions - the people they've relied on for a century or so to prepare, certify, and re-certify teachers. I talked about that in this post. I haven't heard any objections to this idea in recent meetings with U.S. Dept of Ed officials and administrators of higher ed institutions. There's been a little chin rubbing about how to make that happen, but there's also been lights going on.

The publishers will keep bringing up the idea that they're essential to maintaining quality, as Curtiss Barnes did here.  It's still true, though, that OER offers more possibilities for good teaching and learning than Pearson’s proprietary content. The huge untapped potential of OER is the tremendous affordances that show up when OER are used in combination with a good and well supported Learning Management System. I think Open Up Resources has that on their long term road map, but former text book publishers will warm up to the pace slowly. And, as I said here, LMSs have suffered in all levels of education for the lack of OER just as OER have suffered the lack of well supported Learning Management Systems. Both LMSs and OER have suffered the lack of affordable devices and wifi coverage in schools, but that's history, too. I like Open Up Resources's chances against their CEO's former employer.

No comments:

Post a Comment