Very valuable discussions and interactions -- I hope you will be joining the "Open Business Models" workgroup to help us refine the business model for the OER university.
Apology for the long email -- but these are very important issues.
Eric Kluijfhout wrote,
From my experience in a number of developing countries however, students may not have access to the 'players' to consume these e-age learning materials (computers with internet access, smartphones/tablets). I would therefore like to ask attention for relatively 'low tech' carriers and distribution channels as well, like DVDs to distribute OERs to play on a DVD player together with a television set, or just copied/printed paper
Absolutely! I couldn't agree more. I spent the majority of my career working in ICTs for Development (I was born, raised and started my academic career in Africa.) The reality for the majority of learners in Sub-Sarahan Africa is that they will not have reliable and/or affordable access to the Internet. So one of the first projects we tackled in the early days of WikiEducator was to develop wiki-to-print
technology in collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation and PediaPress. Effectively we made it possible for every person on the planet to get a free print copy of the worlds largest free encyclopaedia. Using the create-a-book feature on WikiEducator it is possible to download a pdf master of any collection of OER pages. So in effect it would possible for a local business entrepreneur in a rural village of Uganda to produce print-based study guides from WikiEducator for local distribution -- This model will also contribute to local income generation
There is also an option to download the same content collection in open document text format which educators can then edit locally off-line using a word processor. We have also built conversion features for educators to develop materials offline and upload and share when they have access to an internet connection.
Eric Kluijfhout wrote,
Experiece from one of the oldest university associations, the EADTU, shows that the shared development of materials does not necessarily lead to cost savings.
Not sure that I agree with this one -- The experience of the single mode distance education providers does suggest that the team approach produced high quality materials, but granted it is more expensive. The distance education model is to scale usage across high numbers of learners. So we use the same approach for the OER university. Team design of high quality materials. Fact: The direct cost shared across multiple institutions is cheaper. (Cost of development) divided by 10 results in a smaller number than (Cost of development) divided by 1 ;-). Clearly project management will be an important facet in achieving savings benefits.
Eric Kluijfhout wrote,
Salaries form by far the biggest part of HE budgets. And these are under pressure everywhere ...... Could we not follow the same model as industry - 'outsourcing' to low-cost countries?
Agreed -- and that's the huge advantage of the OER model. A percentage of salary time is spent on course development. The solution is simple, change institutional policy which requires that course materials will be released under open content licenses. Win-win scenario for all involved. The OER university will be an educational charity - -therefore, surplus funding generated will be reinvested back into course development and maintenance. So yes, I think there will be opportunities for "outsourcing" and paying academics to develop OER course materials.
Eric Kluijfhout wrote
The argument that taxpayers should not pay twice for their learning materials surely is now dawning on politicians. But this is not to say that the institutions will move towards an OER strategy.
I also think that many educators joined the profession as a vocation -- with the intention and commitment to share knowledge freely, so both politicians and educators will help the cause in my view. You're right, many institutions will be reluctant to open up their course materials. That's unfortunate, but not an insurmountable barrier. We already have the nexus of a critical mass of institutions who are committed to making the OER university concept work. For example, Otago Polytechnic (one of the anchor partners) has a default Creative Commons Attribution intellectual property policy
-- its only a matter of time before all course materials are available under open content licenses. I believe that Athabasca Univeristy (also an anchor partner) has implemented a course development policy where all course revisions and developments are required to first find OER materials before they are permitted to use close source materials. The OER Foundation will be lobbying governments around the world to allocate a small portion of earmarked funding for OER course development. So for example, BCcampus administer a sizable government fund for the development of OER course materials for the Government of British Columbia. The University of the Western Cape in South Africa as a Free and Open Resources for Education policy prioritising OER development. Institutions are free to join us in making these futures happen (or they can sit on the fence while watching and join us later.) Moreover, I'm confident that that the vision of providing free learning to all students worldwide, is sufficiently compelling to acquire philanthropic bridging funding to achieve this goal.
The OER university is going to happen - -and everyone is free to help us in returning to the core values of the academy -- i.e. to share the world's knowledge as a public good.
Exciting times :-).