The Quest for Sustainability in Open Courseware

Paul Trafford, EDUCAUSE Connect, Jul 16, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I want to be sympathetic, because the author is working with limited information (specifically, his Oxford background, Chris Anderson's book on the long tail, and a podcast on OpenCourseWare). So I'm supporting of his working through the ideas that might lead to something like sustainable open educational resources. But I fear a paradigm shift might be in order. He writes, "the professor is the academic authority who should drive the decision-making subject to the authorisation of the institution." We already know what happens if we allow the professors to drive the decision-making: nothing. That's why Open Access advocates like Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad argue for open access mandates. But also, we know something about authority-driven processes in general: they are top-heavy and ineffective. That's why (in my view) OCW projects cost so much. That's why I recommended a very different approach in my own paper.
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