Open Educational Resources: American Ideals, Global Questions

Steven Weiland, Global Education Review, Jun 26, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article talks about "the American led movement on behalf of the MOOC" though what it really should say is something like "the MOOC movement as seen through American eyes". It depicts MOOCs and Open Educational Resources through a puzzling history beginning "the many kinds of free instructional resources in MIT’s OpenCourseWare project (and) culminating (for now) in the MOOC." There is no question of an American role and influence in these movements, but I think the article would have done better to contrast this role with the concurrent and sometimes leading roles played by people outside the U.S. Either way, though, the article's central premise holds - that what started as a benign movement supporting personal and international development can be seen as having been co-opted to support national and international ambitions. "For critics like Robert Rhoads and his UCLA colleagues the OER movement is primarily an expression of economic 'neoliberalism' and, as presently organized (in the U.S. at least), has little chance of fulfilling its lofty claims for democratizing education across the globe." It's not just the critics who see this though. It's also many of the originators of open online learning - myself included - who see this. Image: Carolyn Fox.

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