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Members of the OCW/OER movement are properly occupied with the current efforts of importance to the movement—increasing the supply and usage of OCW/OER, finding sustainable models, embedding OCW/OER into government and institutional contexts, and seeking ways of certifying knowledge gained through open content. As educators, we are motivated by the high-minded goal of improving access to education throughout the world through technology and free learning opportunities. However, between the focus on issues of immediate concern and the shining light of our overall goal, there is a middle ground that is not well understood by many OCW/OER proponents. That middle ground is composed of large-scale forces that are impacting education and together create an imperative for the OCW/OER movement—a movement that is so important to these trends that the vision we have for the future of OCW/OER is inevitable. This presentation describes these trends and the part that OCW/OER plays in them.
The first and most important trend is the movement toward universal higher education. First identified and described by Martin Trow in 1973, universal higher education is the third stage in the evolution of higher education, following the movement from elite to mass higher education. There are two components for universal higher education. The first is the traditional notion of access by providing access to higher education to people who otherwise could not take part because of geographical or financial issues. The second component is more subtle, but no less important or visible after, the breakdown of boundaries, sequences, and distinctions between learning and life. This presentation will describe how universal higher education is becoming clearly evident and offer some examples of how OCW/OER is a major component in the advancement of universal higher education.
The second trend is the “commoditization” of education. A good or service is “commoditized” when it becomes ubiquitously available at no or very low cost. There are clear patterns of behavior that occur when an important aspect of an industry becomes commoditized. These patterns are evident in the commoditization of content (Google, Wikipedia, YouTube) and communications (Facebook, Skype, Twitter), both of which are important elements of education. Education itself is showing signs of becoming commoditized. Commoditization pushes the “value proposition” to the periphery of the good or service. This presentation will describe that value add shift in higher education, what it means to the OCW/OER movement, and how we can take advantage of this trend.
Advocacy on behalf of the OCW/OER movement is an important role for the OCWC and its members. That advocacy can be most effective when all of us understand the social and economic dynamics that shape our movement. OCW/OER is here to stay in ever greater volume and utility because it is aligned with major social, economic, and edu

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  • This has been the vision for the OCW Consortium since its inception. However, the purpose of this presentation is to make and document the point that this is no longer a vision, but now a prediction. This prediction presents serious threats to traditional higher education, and, in fact, gives us a window into what has been called “post-traditional” higher education. We, who are the active members of the OER/OCW movement, have a responsibility to help our institutions recognize the opportunities and threats that this “imperative” holds for their futures.
  • Our participating institutions all must be involved in dealing with the world’s most pressing problems. If we are not so engaged we will become irrelevant.
  • The solution to every problem requires large numbers of people to be educated at varying levels.
  • Yet there is absolutely no way that the demand for education, to sustain social and economic growth and to address our many problems, can be satisfied by traditional higher education.
  • The demands for workforce education cannot be met by traditional degree programs. Degree education is not affordable by world economies and is often not the appropriate format for many learning objectives.
  • The facts just presented create a compelling case for radical change in the way higher education is provided. We understand that they create a compelling argument for OER/OCW. But we need to be specific in describing the forces that are pushing us toward the open education world we now predict much more quickly than has been generally calculated. Here are three forces, among others that could be included, that make the prediction of OER/OCW “beyond optimism.”
  • The proliferation of free learning objects and pathways is a logical step in a trend that was discernible as far back as 1974 when Martin Trow wrote his article describing the movement from elite to mass to universal access.
  • Originally, MartinTrow considered universal access as involving access to formal education by more than half of high school graduates. He saw the community college movement as an early facilitator of this shift, as was experimentation with the “use of video cassettes, TVs, computers and other technological aids to instruction.” Twenty-five years later, as Internet technologies began to have a significant impact on higher education, Trow extended his view of universal access to include a wide range of informal learning: “Information technology now forces a revision of our conception of the conditions making for universal access: it allows, and becomes the vehicle for, universal access to higher education of a different order of magnitude, with courses of every kind and description available on the Internet in peoples’ homes and workplaces. That involves profound changes in both institutional structures and attitudes regarding higher education.”
  • The most remarkable aspect of this is that Trow made this prediction and analysis in 1974.
  • Universal access is the third stage in the evolution of higher education, following the movement from elite to mass higher education. There are two components of universal access. The first is the traditional notion of providing access to higher education to people who otherwise could not take part because of geographical or financial limitations. The second component is more subtle, but no less important or visible—the breakdown of boundaries, sequences, and distinctions between learning and life. Universal access is becoming clearly evident and will offer opportunities of how OER/OCW is a major component in the advancement of universal higher education.
  • A major adjustment that traditional higher education institutions need to make is to focus on the value (to the student) of the education provided.
  • Current institutions and teaching structures (degrees, colleges, and universities) are not able to fully serve this goal of universal access.Therefore, teaching and learning will be increasingly characterized by a great diversity of providers with no common standards governing them. However, to compensate for the lack of common standards, we’re seeing a shift to “value adds.” The evaluation of education, at the organizational and individual level, will be based on the actual results of education in increasingmeasureable skills, abilities, or useful knowledge of students. The failure of traditional higher education institutions to provide evidence of value adds and adjust to the changing needs of its audience will lead to something we are already seeing—the questioning of the special privileges and immunities of academe.
  • The OER/OCW movement is entirely synchronized with the inevitability of universal access. In fact, several of the characteristics of universal access (the breaking down of learning boundaries, the diversity of providers, and lack of standards) are being played out now within the framework of the open movements. The recent interest in “badges” and the concern over learning authentication, validation, and certification in the absence of common standards is clearly related to the growth in open educational opportunities. OER/OCW is both a cause and beneficiary of the movement toward universal access.
  • Education has advanced toward commodification in that it has, through the OER/OCW movements, become ubiquitously available at little or no cost.
  • Commodification is a more recent concept, created by Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., and who coined “Web 2.0” to distinguish what he saw as the use of the Web as a communication and social networking vehicle as contrasted with its initial use as a content and information delivery vehicle. Observing the growth and dynamics behind the development and progress of open source software (free, developed through voluntary communities), O’Reilly applied the “law of conservation of attractive profits” to the phenomenon of open products. When attractive profits disappear at one stage in the value chain because a product becomes modular and commoditized, the opportunity to earn attractive profits with proprietary products will usually emerge at an adjacent stage.
  • Commoditization pushes the traditional “value proposition” of an industry to the periphery of the good or service. The consequences of the commodification of education are more clearly seen if we observe what happened in the content and communication industries. Providers of content (publishers, encyclopedias) gave way to organizations which provided free content but charged or benefitted from peripheral services (Wikipedia, Google, iTunes and YouTube). Commodification of communications spawned the social network industry and web-based communication (Skype, Facebook, and Twitter). In education we’re seeing the creation of organizations and businesses designed to deliver free services associated with learning pathways (repositories of learning objects and supplemental instruction). Again, the OER/OCW movements are the result of and benefit from the long-term shift in education toward commodification.
  • While O’Reilly first applied this “law” to the software industry, it is also clearly at play in the chain of learning, which starts with content and information, proceeds to communication and social interaction, and then moves to actual learning activities. The previous chart illustrates this progression, which has occurred sequentially, and helps illustrate the “attractive profit” principle through examples of successful business ventures with the free distribution of the commoditized product at the center of the business model. It is clear that a huge proportion of the information available on the Web is useful and that Google and other search engines have based their business models on helping us find the content that we want. Google has digitized over 4% of the total number of books printed (over 15 million volumes), offering summaries and abstracts from the corpus of material, and providing much of that content to users for free. iTunes, YouTube, and Wikipedia are also examples of free services around which commercialized value propositions have been built. The next step in this commoditization chain is Web 2.0 in which communication and social interactions become ubiquitous and free (or very inexpensive). Skype, Facebook, Twitter and many other companies have been formed around this free resource, often creating extraordinary stockholder values.
  • Traditional higher education is surrounded by potential competitive factors related to universal access.
  • Evidence of the models that commodification might make on traditional higher education can be seen in several well publicized and funded efforts. The notion of “badges” has caught public attention and has been seen immediately as a new treat.
  • The badge concept has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation which set up a competition for proposals that would support alternative (to degree) certifications. However, among the winners of the competition were a number of top ranked universities including USC, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Ohio State, UC Davis and Peer 2 Peer University, just to name a few.
  • Within the U.S. there is some debate that new forms of certification will replace degrees. The fear from higher education is that concepts like badges will alter the traditional learning pathway, resulting in graduates that haven’t experienced a holistic learning experience.
  • Perhaps the most extensive effort by a major institution is the non-degree certification movement as the recently announced MITx venture which is an interactive e-learning venture on an open platform that is expected to host "a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.” MITx will offer certificates to non-matriculated students who complete open courses. Further, self-learners will be able to communicate with others (including MIT students) and, for a “modest fee,” be issued a “credential” from MITx.
  • Of course the Kahn Academy is the leading example of “supplemental instruction.” However, it too is offering badges.
  • The movements both toward universal access and commodification are expressed in the “Edupunk” movement, now well recognized by organizations such as the Gates Foundation which expresses a rejection of traditional forms of higher education. An edupunk is “someone who doesn’t want to play by the old college rules.” The premise is that anyone can learn from free material on the web, which is “faster, more up to date, and more relevant to our immediate needs” than material found in a typical college classroom.
  • The third major trend supporting the OER/OCW movements is the increase in costs of higher education and the accompanying requirements for accountability.
  • The public is demanding to know what the “value add” of a degree is worth in the marketplace and its impact on their personal lives. The rising cost to students and parentsof U.S. higher education means that large numbers of members ofour workforce can’t get the education they need, when they need it.
  • Openness is now increasingly being adopted as a formal part of the accountability process. Universities are pressured to establish clear learning objectives, assess the learning of graduates, measure their success in achieving those outcomes, and then publish all of these items for public consumption and evaluation. Even more depth of openness is being demanded. For instance, state legislatures, particularly in Texas and Florida, are questioning university “productivity”—by which they primarily mean faculty workload. Illustrating the connection between accountability, openness, and intrusion into what have been the private spaces of higher education, the Texas legislature passed a law (HB2504) requiring public institutions (except medical and dental schools) to post a public website for every undergraduate course.
  • Members of the OCW/OER movements are now shifting in their emphasis and position in higher education. Those who were considered visionary and maybe even out-of-touch with reality are now being turned to for help in predicting the future and implementing plans. In such a shift they are moving to a more central role in the life of the university. For us in the OCW/OER movement, the opportunity exists that we can become leaders in our institutions.
  • To download this presentation, please visit: http://www.slideshare.net/garymatkin/ocwcglobal2012
  • ocwc2012

    1. 1. Cambridge 2012: Innovation and Impact - Openly Collaborating to Enhance Education Cambridge, U.K., April 18, 2012
    2. 2. Imagine a world in which everyone could learn anything anywhere anytime for free
    3. 3. Hunger Disease Global Warming Terrorism Religious Strife Population GrowthEnvironmental Degradation Economic Development Natural Catastrophes Energy
    4. 4. Imagine a World Problem that Does Not Involve Education
    5. 5. By 2025, 98 million graduates ofsecondary education WILL NOT beable to attend college
    6. 6. To serve these students, 4 largecampuses, serving 30,000 students,would have to be built EVERY WEEKfor the next 15 years
    7. 7.  The trend toward universal access The “commodification” of education The increasing cost of education and the demand for institutional accountability
    8. 8.  First scholar to describe the transition in higher education from elite to mass to universal student access Envisioned a world in which education was ubiquitous
    9. 9.  Adaptation of the whole population to rapid social and technological change Breakdown of boundaries and sequences and distinctions between learning and life Postponement of entry, softening of boundaries between formal education and other aspects of life Great diversity with no common standards Aggregates of people enrolled, some of whom are rarely or never on campus; Questioning of special privileges and immunities of academe; Criterion shifts from “standards” to “value adds;” Open emphasis on equality of group achievement
    10. 10.  Learning can be broken down into smaller chunks and in sequences that were not possible before Learning can now take place in our day- to-day activities as never before
    11. 11. Inability to Diversity of Creating a Meet the Providers Shift Goal of with No Toward Universal Common “Value Access Standards Adds”
    12. 12.  Evaluation will be based on the actual results of education in measureable skills, abilities, or useful knowledge The failure to provide evidence of value adds will lead to the questioning of the special privileges and immunities of academe
    13. 13.  Recent interest in “badges” Concerns about learning authentication, validation, and certification in the absence of common standards
    14. 14.  Education becomes ubiquitously available at little or no cost Commodification follows the two elements of that are essential to education—content and communication Commoditization pushes the traditional “value proposition” of an industry to the periphery of the good or service
    15. 15. Content/InformationWikipedia Google iTunes YouTube Communication/Interaction (Web 2.0) Skype Facebook Twitter Learning Pathways Flat World KahnOCWC Merlot Connexions Knowledge Academy
    16. 16. Many Alternative Providers Free Free Supplemental Instruction Content Traditional HigherAlternative Education AccessibleStandards Repositories & Values Proliferating Learning Projects
    17. 17.  The rising cost of U.S. higher education means that large numbers of our workforce can’t get the education they need, when they need it This has become a world issue
    18. 18. H.B. No. 2504: Section 51.974.“Each institution of highereducation, other than a medicaland dental unit, shall makeavailable to the public on theinstitution’s Internet website thefollowing information for eachundergraduate classroom courseoffered for credit by theinstitution.”
    19. 19. 1. From visionary to predictor/implementer2. From periphery to core3. From optimist to leader