Virtually Connecting the OER Conspiracy Dots

Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jun 15, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There are times I think a lot of OER advocates doesn't really comprehend the benefits of OERs. This is especially the same when OERs are being used in a traditional education setting. A case in point is Jim Groom's post: "does the push for OER in the form of a cost saving argument for textbooks feed this bait and switch?" he asks. "Like EDUPUNK and MOOCs, I would hate to see OER be the latest installment in a long line of useful idiots for cutting, gutting, and redirecting higher ed funding." That's fair enough, but I also don't want to see OER entrenching the existing content-centered elite-focused higher education system as it exists today.

We have to understand there are two separate, equally valuable, and not-incompatible agendas here: first, to create access to a wide range of learning materials to people who would not otherwise have access to them; and second, to lower the cost for students, parents and governments (and, for that matter, employers, companies and institutions). I'd rather see us spend less money per student on education, and enable more flexibility and self-management in education (and we're going to have to if we're to fund education for 7 billion people). To me, OERs are an effective strategy to do this - but we have to do them right. 

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