Global OER Remix Challenge: STE{A}M

Jan 22, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I found this site really frustrating. The idea is really good, on the surface: to provide a bunch of OERs, maybe some remix tools, and encourage people to use these to make something new (and in particular, "a standards-aligned, integrated STE{A}M lesson that incorporates various media, draws on existing open resources, and supports inquiry-based learning"). But none of the links ever seems to take me where I want to go. The big "Collaborate" link takes me (after two clicks) to ISKME's 'remake lab' which (several links later) seems to be teachers working with construction paper (pictured) (other links just take me back where I was). The 'View the STE{A}M Collection' link takes me to a bunch of sites, many of which are (like Arts & Ecoology) 'all rights reserved' sites. The 'View open author remixes' link takes me to no such thing; instead it links to the same site the 'Collaborate' link takes me to. The four links at the bottom seem promising - but the Nature Journaling link takes me to an 'all rights reserved' PDF by John Muir Laws, Global Nomad takes me to another ISKME resource, Road to Doha, and the final two are views of the OER 'collection', much the same as the STE{A}M collection link. Going though this site in good faith really makes me feel like I am being scammed, and I don't like feeling like I'm being scammed. I'd take the whole site down.

Oh, and p.s. - the very next link in the OER Commons newsletter is a link to the ISKME GoPro Learning Challengewhere "all you'll need is to create a great idea for educational content that makes use of a GoPro camera." Exactly the same page design; the links are different, though - if you click you just go to GoPro. p.p.s. ISKME is the 'Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education'. The ISKME board is chaired by Lance T. Izumi from the Pacific Research Institute ("a California-based free-market think tank"; do click the link), and includes Mark David Milliron is Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning (and previously the Gates Foundation), Lisa Petrides, a former professor at Columbia University, Teachers College, and a post-doc fellow at the Educational Testing Service, and Marshall "Mike" S. Smith, "visiting scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching", and previously the program director for education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He's also on the board of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

Interestingly, in her most recent blog post, The Elephant in Education: Open Source Pillaging (July, 2013), Petrides writes, "What we are seeing more frequently these days is an OER storefront, supporting a freemium model with something that isn’t even theirs. It’s as if Barnes and Noble were to invite the local public library to set up a display in the front of the store, so when you first walk in you see this terrific selection of highly curated books, serving as a public good. But then when you step past the facade, you see it’s just provided as an entryway to the commercial store — akin to using OER as a marketing mechanism for a future sale." That's really what I felt I was seeing with the OER Commons site.

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