Will Nonprofit Trade Associations Embrace Open Educational Resources [OER]?

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Openness in education is an emergent practice among many organizations and institutions.

Open educational resources (OER) affect the practices of instruction, learning, presenting and teaching.

Will nonprofit trade associations embrace OER or will they continue to keep educational resources behind a member wall or for purchase only?

Defining OER

OER are educational materials such as articles, assessments, content, course materials, instructional materials, research, simulations and textbooks that are either:

1. Licensed under an open copyright license like Creative Commons

2. In the public domain

The 4R Activities Of OER

In both cases listed above, anyone anywhere can enjoy free access to OER. OER also gives people permission to engage in the 4R activities when using these resources:

1. Revise

To adapt and to improve the OER so it better meets your needs.

2. Remix

To combine or “mashup” the OER with other OER or personal materials to produce new materials.

3. Reuse

To use the original or your new version of the OER in a wide range of contexts

4. Redistribute

To make copies and share the original OER or your new version with others.

Why People Should Embrace OER

Many association leaders struggle to understand why other organizations and institutions would develop educational materials that they would give away without capturing any monetary value from them. Here are some of the reasons and motivations that drive OER.

1. Education Is Sharing

At its basic level, education is all about sharing. In fact, sharing is the only way by which education is effected. If a teacher or presenter is not sharing what he/she knows, there is no education happening. If a colleague is not sharing what works for them with another colleague, education does not happen.

Those organizations and leaders that share the most of themselves with others are the ones we often label the most successful. Ultimately, education is a matter of sharing. The OER approach is designed specifically to enable extremely efficient and affordable sharing.

OER uses the full power of the internet: free sharing of educational resources with the world. OER also provides a way to make education significantly more affordable and accessible for all.

2. Continuous Improvement

Think back to your school days. Instructors frequently supplemented textbooks and curriculums to provide the best materials for their students. They often don’t have the ability to assemble exactly what they wanted for a textbook due to copyright-protected materials. With current copyright laws, presenters and instructors are essentially powerless to legally improve the materials they use in education classes.

OER provides instructors and presenters with free and legal permissions to engage in continuous quality improvement. This empowers teachers and speakers to take ownership and control over the content in a way that was not previously possible.

3. Getting What You Already Paid For

Many local, state and federal governments fund the development of education and research resources through grants. Government uses taxpayer dollars to commission the creation of resources. Frequently, once finalized, these resources are commercialized and the access is restricted to those that pay for them…a second time.

This scenario is similar to those found in trade associations. Membership dollars or registration fees are used to fund development of education resources. The association then charges members or attendees a fee again to access them. It’s a sort of screwed-up BOGO, Buy One Get One where the member pays twice for the materials.

Some governments are moving towards more OER policies. Because a large portion of education and research comes from the taxpayer dollar, it’s imperative that governments provide free and legally available OER. Every taxpayer has a reasonable expectation of access to educational material and research that their tax dollars supported.

What are some other reasons to embrace OER? Do you think trade associations will adopt OER policies or a modified version of OER?

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’ve already mentioned one form of open education above – MOOCs – but the trend is much broader than massive courses, and it was building steam long before it started making headlines over the past year. (Check out this Mission to Learn post on open education from way back in 2007, for example.) “Open” in the pure sense doesn’t just mean free – it means allowing for changing content, adding to it, and re-distributing. Used wisely, it can be a powerful tool for spreading knowledge and creating real educational impact in your market. (Jeff Hurt recently did a good post on the possibilities for open education in the association world.) […]

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