Why Free Is Not the Future of Digital Content in Education

Mary Cullinane, Wired, Mar 25, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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long ago accused Wired of selling out to advertisers, and this column (not coincidentally authored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Chief Content Officer) does not dissuade me of that criticism. Here is the argument, in one sentence: "If we do not get educational content right, students are less likely to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers." If this were true, nobody would have succeeded before academic publishers came onto the scene. But in fact, almost any content will do if learners are motivated, and no content will do if learners are not motivated. And the reason why free can work and is working is that it's created by and for people who are motivated. That's why it's enough of a threat to an academic publisher that they felt compelled to write an op-ed in one of their captive publications.

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