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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