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An Elephant in the OER Room: One Topic We Aren't Talking About


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Brandon Muramatsu and David Wiley

While critical discourses are proliferating in the open education community, there are a number of critically important issues related to OER that, as a field, we aren’t talking openly about. Perhaps the most important of these taboo topics is “sustainability”.

Ideas like business models, funding lifecycles, ecosystems, markets, and revenue shouldn’t be anathema in our community. Real dollars and real time continue to be spent to make OER “free” (or low cost). While grant funding might be a great way to fund the startup of a project or program, continuing to live from grant to grant will not likely be a successful strategy over the long term, as funder priorities change and funding sources dry up.

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An Elephant in the OER Room: One Topic We Aren't Talking About

  1. 1. An Elephant in the OER Room: One Topic We Aren’t Talking About Brandon Muramatsu, David Wiley, Photo by Nam Anh on Unsplash Hi, my name is George, Ellen had another session to attend Copyright 2019, Brandon Muramatsu and David Wiley. Unless otherwise stated this presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  2. 2. “Sustainability can be defined as a project’s ongoing ability to meet its goals.”
  3. 3. Sustainability involves resources of various types to meet many needs: • Creating new content (static) • course materials, assessments • Creating new content (dynamic) • assessments, simulations, interactives • Platform • Hosting, security • Community • development / facilitation, coordination • Maintaining existing content • recency, relevance • Improving existing content • data-informed continuous improvement • Platform improvements • new features, bug fixes, security updates • Wholesale platform changes
  4. 4. Will every person associated with your open ed initiative work for free as a volunteer? If yes, where does the funding to coordinate their work come from? If not, where does the funding to support their work come from?
  5. 5. Is hoping that a small number of major foundation programs will continue to fund OER indefinitely a reasonable and viable long term plan?
  6. 6. Is hoping that one time funding will continue to be provided (by colleges, state legislatures, etc.) a reasonable and viable long term plan? If not, where does the funding come from?
  7. 7. Is there a role for revenue? E.g., fee for services models, including: Professional societies Membership networks Internal (course fees) External (value added service providers)
  8. 8. Frameworks Matter Are OER common pool resources? If yes, we should fund and manage them as a commons Are OER public goods? If yes, we should fund and manage them as public infrastructure