Shutting Down Open Resources

Libby A. Nelson, Inside Higher Ed, Oct 18, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's not law, or even close to law, but as this article in Inside Higher Ed attests, the counterattack against open educational resources (OERs) by publishers has begun. The strategy? Cut federal funding for any OER for which "an alternative is available" - even (or perhaps especially!) if that alternative is a commercial product. It reminds me of the mostly successful campaigns to block municipal fibre networks and suspend the distribution of educational programming by the BBC.

It's the same old argument: "The move is a boon to publishers, who have feared that government support for the freely available, modifiable course materials, known as 'open educational resources,' or OERs, would eat into their profits and give the free programs an unfair advantage. If effective programs are already for sale, they argue, the federal government shouldn’t spend extra money to reinvent the wheel." See also this article and discussion on Google+ from Audrey Watters.
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