Of Progress, Problems, and Partnerships

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Apr 18, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

So we know now why students will have to pay for Lumen learning's new 'open' educational resources. "The partnership also adds, for the first time, the option for students to pay Lumen’s course support fee rather than the institution. (Previously our model only allowed institutions to pay these fees, and that has made it difficult for some schools to work with us.)" Note the use of the passive voice ("the option to pay...") which suggests that this is something students would voluntarily choose. I'm glad David Wiley is excited, because I'm not. Will the students who opt not to pay still have access to the materials? Or is Lumen now just the Wal-Mart of learning?

In another post, Wiley answers the questions  pose directly: "No one is ever denied access to the OER in Lumen courses for any reason.... If you don’t pay, what you won’t have access to are personalization features, assessments, teacher analytic and communications tools, LMS integration, gradebook write back, and things like that." That's very nice, but: in the case where institutions have chosen to have students given 'the option' can they just get their $25 back? No, clearly not. There isn't any option except to pay the cost (though the cost is now putatively for personalization, etc).

Phil Hill also has an extended post on the story, but given the close relationship between MindWires and the companies involved I'm not going to consider it arm's length coverage.

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