OER dystopia?

Sadly the live stream for David and Stephen’s OER discussion broke down during the post-lunch session so I had to wait until morning to catch the uploaded audio recordings. The final session of the day promised to be the most interesting for me, and I potentially liked the idea of putting some questions to the experts so that we could hear their views. But the questions weren’t that great. Essentially along the lines of:

  1. What is your most dystopic future scenario for OER
  2. What do you expect to happen in the future for OER
  3. What would be your perfect future for OER

I didn’t catch the moderator’s name, but he elaborated on question 1 by raising a concern that what’s happening in the UK now, government investing in OER to raise the profile of the UK. This was a little uncomfortable for him. Hmm, I wonder why? There was an implied element of state control being bad for OER. As a Brit, and involved in a state-funded, well JISC funded OER project I felt I couldn’t let that pass.

Public money investment in opening up educational resources is a good thing isn’t it? After all, public money paid for the creation of a lot of content in the first place. A more dystopian society would surely suppress the release of educational resources, prevent the education of a majority, and control access to information. The investment of around £5M in OER by the JISC is in part a response to the UK being relative latecomers to OER, and if this investment raises our profile in this area then I’m all for that. The UK has a good track record at innovation in technology enhanced learning so I’m sure we have a lot to contribute to the OER agenda.

For what it’s worth, here are my answers to the three questions above:

Worse-case scenario? Either no content being released/shared by anyone because they’re too afraid they’ll get the licensing wrong, else no content being released because everyone foolishly thinks they can sell it.

Most likely scenario? We’ll do what we’ve always done and get what we’ve always got. A wide range of resources available under a spectrum of licenses to reflect the diversity of uses. There will always be some good freely usable stuff, some good stuff you’d like to use but it’s not available under a suitable license, and some good stuff that will always be commercial.

Best-case scenario? World peace and unlimited access to all knowledge and the resources to apply that knowledge for the betterment of human kind.

Easy 🙂

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