Free + open?
If we truly want to create a European Open Education Resources (OER) ecosystem we must address the challenges of OER financial sustainability. Central to the open education movement are the principles of openness and freedom in order to democratise access to knowledge, “everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint.” (Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2012).
While these principles are important concepts, there is “no such thing as a free lunch”. Somebody pays. Whether it is the OER enthusiast who gives their time to create resources, or the public funded university who provides open infrastructure, or the business that uses a freemium model to offer layered access to OER. In our forthcoming report Strategic Support for OER Value proposition, we analysed one hundred businesses that integrated openness and OER in their business models. We found when considering sustainability against the triple bottom line (Elkington, 1994) also known at the 3Ps (People, Planet, Profit), we found that from the OER perspective the financial pillar was not always present.
Many higher education OER offerings have a static or interactive business model where short term grants or financing offer the opportunity to create the OER. Upon completion of the project and with no continued financing the OER offering remains static with limited or no updates, limited if any ongoing maintenance and limited opportunity to attract new financial support as well as end users.
At our forthcoming circle event we will be discussing these issues around OER sustainability, business strategy and value propositions, come along and get involved.
We are inviting stakeholders from business and education to get involved in our policy and practice circle community. You can do this in two ways:
- Contribute examples of openness and OER in your organisation by contributing to our survey
- Come to our circle online event on the 4th of May