Examining the potential and reality of open educational resources: the 2013 COHERE conference

Tony Bates, Let's Talk About Tech, Oct 27, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Tony Bates summarizes a discussion he held at the COHERE (Collaboration for Online Higher Education and Research) conference on  the idea of open textbooks. To me it's a no-brainer - why couldn't governments just contract textbook production directly and make them available for free? Yes, there are issues - we need to ensure production of niche materials, we need to ensure support over-and-above authorship is available, and we need to examine the model if textbooks in itself (Elizabeth Murphy sees them as a relic of 20th century industrialism). Meanwhile, says Bates, most hoigher education professors still don't use open educational resources (OERs) at all - and in my opinion it's this blithe indifference to the costs paid by stgudents that underlines why the educational system so needs a good shaking up. Finally, he links to Jenni Hayman's new MOOC service called World Wide Ed. " Now if we just had a Federal Department of Education to put some money behind it," says Bates. But why can't the provinces do that? How does this somehow become easier if it's a federal agency putting money behind it? I think it would be harder for someone like Hayman, not easier.  (p.s. on open licensing being one of the great inventions of the last century - I agree, but be sure to remember that it was not invented by Richard Stallman or Lawrence Lessig; open licenses existed in the noncommercial world long before they were 'discovered' by professors in the elite schools (same old story, goes round and round)).

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