Slow or Sophisticated? Squandered or Sustainable?

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Feb 15, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley takes publishers to task for not comprehending the threat of open educational resources. And with $3 billion of financial aid money in the U.S. spent on textbooks and proprietary learning materials, publishers have a lot to worry about. But I'm not sure I agree with his exact argument. Wiley writes, "OER are not a threat to publishers simply because they’re free. OER are a threat to publishers because the 'open' in OER means free plus permissions." The permissions Wiley refers to are the five Rs - retain, revise, reuse, remix, redistribute. Now it's true I think that these are a deeper threat to publishers. But I think that publishers are threatened by free content in and of itself. Moreover, I think that once content is free, there is very little that stops it from becoming open in the sense of the five Rs - after all, if it's all free, where's the harm in retaining it or sharing it? So when Wiley says "Free isn’t the threat to publishers, open is," I think he's only half right. I think they're both threats to publishers.

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