(from Susan DeanAnd the Textbook is … free? Open Educational Resources” at the California Math Council Community Colleges36th Annual Fall Conference in December 2008 http://cccoer.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/open-textbooks-at-math-conference/)

  • Lowers the costs of educational materials for students
  • Fosters pedagogical innovation and relevance that avoids “teaching from the textbook”
  • Gives faculty tools to gain control over learning content and delivery.
  • Share and remix learning materials for customized and localized use
  • Fast feedback loop on quality and relevance of learning materials => continual improvement and rapid development

from http://flexknowlogy.learningfield.org/2009/01/13/primary-motivations-for-open-education/

  • Philanthropic: Sharing and providing education to people all over the world, with special attention to those in third-world countries or without access to high-quality local education.
  • Strategic: Adapting educational practices to the changing world culture may increase viability of educational institutions. (Additional motivations exist here as well, but are perhaps more subtle or less overarching).
  • Pedagogic: The act of sharing may increase attention to quality; the act of adapting or remixing may increase quality; the utilization of new technologies may enhance educational engagement amongst learners.
  • Economic: Cost-savings to the institution by digitally archiving their own materials, and then sharing and reusing within the institution and amongst peers.

from http://mfeldstein.com/itoe-motivations-for-open-education/
  • Competitiveness: In the Wiley piece, David makes the case that university education in its current form is increasingly out of step with how the university’s customers prefer to work and learn. Open education, he argues, brings closer alignment and therefore increased institutional viability.
  • Consumerism: At the OPEN Forum, Brad Wheeler made a very compelling case that, across a range of product markets from academic software to textbooks to scholarly publishing, the markets are structured in ways that tend to encourage the formation of monopolies which are very costly to universities. (I’ll post a link to the slides as soon as they are up.) Open education, he argues, weakens those monopoly-inducing market forces.
  • Indirect Sales: I have argued in the past that Apple has a business model for iTunes University that aligns very well with the promotion of open education. Apple has no real way to make large amounts of money directly on iTunes U, but neither will they lose large amounts of money on it. Their costs are mostly sunk into the iTunes Music Store, with very little investment required to extend the infrastructure for use by universities. And in fact, Apple doesn’t make much money on iTunes Music Store either. They don’t have to make money selling iTunes because they make plenty of money selling iPods and iPhones, and the iTunes infrastucture helps them do that. Indirect sales can be a good model for aligning value with values.
  • Lower cost direct sales: The discount store is probably as old as retail itself. We saw Dell become a superstar because of it in the early days of the digital age. We’re seeing open source software companies succeed on it now. For example, Alfresco figured out that a good chunk of enterprise content management revenues comes from consulting. So they could give away their software for free, thus undercutting the competition, and still have something to sell at a profit (namely support and customization services). Note that this doesn’t work in all cases. I’m not aware of any major Firefox support and consulting companies, for example. So it’s an open question regarding where and how well this model can apply to OER. More on this idea later in the semester, I’m sure.