Slow or Sophisticated? Squandered or Sustainable?

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Feb 15, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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David Wiley takes publishers to task for not comprehending the threat of open educational resources. And with $3 billion of financial aid money in the U.S. spent on textbooks and proprietary learning materials, publishers have a lot to worry about. But I'm not sure I agree with his exact argument. Wiley writes, "OER are not a threat to publishers simply because they’re free. OER are a threat to publishers because the 'open' in OER means free plus permissions." The permissions Wiley refers to are the five Rs - retain, revise, reuse, remix, redistribute. Now it's true I think that these are a deeper threat to publishers. But I think that publishers are threatened by free content in and of itself. Moreover, I think that once content is free, there is very little that stops it from becoming open in the sense of the five Rs - after all, if it's all free, where's the harm in retaining it or sharing it? So when Wiley says "Free isn’t the threat to publishers, open is," I think he's only half right. I think they're both threats to publishers.

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