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Is Academic Recognition Sufficient Incentive to Create Open Source Courseware?

Cloud created by:

Robert Farrow
27 October 2011

Brian Jacobs & Luke Fernandez
Akademos

"One central assumption in the OER movement is that high quality content can be developed without necessarily introducing a financial motivation for academic authors to produce such materials. Such is the view, for example, of the Connexions Consortium. Academic recognition and the ability to establish a professional reputation, the reasoning goes, are sufficient motivation among many faculty to consider contributing to the rapidly expanding pool of OER texts. Some academic institutions, moreover, will consider OER publications in the tenure review process, providing perhaps the greatest incentive to produce first rate work without additional compensation."

The economic model for the bookstore is broken... why aren't OERs more widely adopted?  Is it just impatience?  After all, there are a number of initiatives taking off (e.g. Washington State Initiative) and in the USA there has only been an OER-friendly administration for a few years.

OER: Gratis & Libre

Gratis OER: We forego ownership, requiring nothing in exchange for labour (DONATION MODEL)

(A shell on the beach is free, but one in a shop by the seafront is not)

In 1960, 75% of staff were tenured or tenure-track; in 2009 this figure was just 27%.  In an OER context, the role of faculty (likely to be adjunct or otherwise untenured professors):

  • Producing content
  • Discovery and evaluation
  • Adapation of content to classroom use
  • Sharing experience of content use and derivative use
Untenured staff inevitably focus on research, teaching and administrative duties.  Working with OER is not typically recognised.

Non-gratis / Libre OER: There is a tacit acknowledgement that good will alone won't be enough to meet the vision that exists.  Is the donation model really adequate?  After all, commerical publishers have significant advantages.

Publisher advantages:

  • High quality content
  • Technological capacity
  • Markey and sales apparatus
  • Sensitivity to faculty needs
  • Integration of assessment materials
  • Faculty more interested in quality than cost
  • Publishers provide time-stressed faculty with quick, prepackaged solutions for their teaching and assessment needs
Is there a convergence happening here?  OER might need to imprve quality while publishers use cheaper materials in return relaxing licensing and copyright practices.
OERs could be a large part of the future if...
  • It can be shown to improve academic life
  • Financial incentives for production, curation, distribution and use can be put in place
  • OERs are viewed as of (at least) equivalent quality than commerical materials
  • OERs are in receipt of government/federal support

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