Ten Years Later: Why Open Educational Resources Have Not Noticeably Affected Higher Education, and Why We Should Care

Gerd Kortemeyer, Foundations of Creativity, Mar 04, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Wait... what? Actually, the headline overstates the case. Here is is, precisely: "OERs have failed to significantly affect the day-to-day teaching of the vast majority of higher education institutions. Traditional textbooks and readings still dominate most teaching venues even though essentially all students are online: Course management systems are used only for the dissemination of syllabi, class notes, general communications, and as a grade book." The article nicely lists some adoption hurdles: discoverability, quality, last mile, acquisition. And it suggests as a solution a "a 'supersized' CMS" and helpfully notes "amodel system does exist - The LON-CAPA system established in 1999." But what the article does not do, beyond that original statement, is make the case that OERs have not impacted higher education. David Kernohan writes, "this is an egregious example of a tendency that suggests that OER would be a far better idea if it was just under more control, better organised and more structured." Lorna Campbell writes, "I don’t think a “global enterprise-level system” is the answer to anything." But Kortemeyer rejoinds, "I think people are overlooking a word in the title: 'traditional'... i.e., campus-based for-credit universities like the one I work at, Michigan State University? Why are the students still forced to buy textbooks for $180 if all of the content is indeed freely available?" Why, indeed?

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