Four Conclusions on OERs

1. Access and Pedagogy

Let's take it as a starting point that there are two objectives at play here:

- first, the objective of providing access for all, which as I stated, was demonstrably the goal of the vast majority, if not all, people working in OER.

- second, the objective of what David Wiley calls "OER-enabled pedagogy", which is the "more" he wants when he says, "Stephen answers that his goal is access for all, and takes me to task for wanting more."

So there are two (related) questions:

- first, should the OER movement emphasize the second objective as much as (or more than, or instead of) the first?

- second, does the OER movement as a whole actually embrace what Wiley calls "OER-enabled pedagogy"?

Wiley pretty clearly answers "yes" to the first. Less clear is whether he thinks we should emphasize the second as much, more than, or instead of the first. But whatever.

But what of the second question? Is there a unity of opinion on pedagogy in the OER movement? Should we all be embracing what Wiley calls "OER-enabled pedagogy"?

No. First of all, people don't define OER in terms of pedagogy, they define it in terms of access. You can use OER for whatever pedagogy you want, good or bad.

Second, even if OER were defined in terms of pedagogy, it's not at all clear that people would agree on Wiley's version of what that pedagogy would be. What Wiley calls OER-enabled pedagogy is not what brings together the OER movement.

So, the answer to the second question is "no". Which means that the answer to the first question should be "no" as well.

Wiley us free to pursue what he calls "OER-enabled pedagogy". But his efforts to link it with the entire OER movement as a whole are (to my mind) misrepresentative and damaging. To that end, he should maybe give his pedagogy a different name.

2. Faculty

Who is the target audience for the OER movement? Who are we trying to convince to adopt OER? There are two possible answers:

- faculty

- faculty, and other people

Wiley says, "When I use the words “adopt OER,” I mean a faculty member choosing to replace whatever appeared in the Required Materials section of their syllabus last term with OER this term."

Wiley therefore believes the answer is the first. In this he is simply and observably wrong. It may be true that in his world faculty make all the decisions. But it's not true at all outside the university world, and not true even in all of the university world.

Wiley is free to focus exclusively on adoption by faculty. But his efforts to constrain the entire OER movement as a whole to such a narrow approach are (to my mind) misrepresentative and damaging. He should perhaps allow the wider community to define what it means to say "adopt OER".

Interlude: Economic Epistemology

Wiley says,
Almost no other part of life works this way where money is concerned. In almost every other case, the person choosing the item to be purchased is the person who has to pay for that item. 
This may be true in a purely capitalist economy, but most of us live in a mixed economy. For us, the person who pays and the person who chooses are often different people. Governments and institutions, not consumers, decide on our behalf everything from paving contractors to policing services to the location of hospitals.

He says,
This tends to encourage people to be cost conscious in their choices since they have to bear the financial consequences of their choices. 
Actually, the evidence to date tends to prove the opposite. For the most part, people aren't in a good position to make a choice. Often (as in the case of a student signing up for a required class) they have no choice, or limited choices based on financial means. And even when they can make a choice, they routinely make bad choices (in this they are abetted by marketers).

3. Waymaker

In an argument worthy of Duns Scotus, Wiley says,
Waymaker is, in fact, our name for the way we bring many tools together cohesively, including the open source Pressbooks, Candela, and Open Assessments source code in our GitHub repo.
So I'm wrong when I say that the code is proprietary, right? Well...
all code underlying Waymaker is in the public repo except the code for the analytics dashboards and messaging services, which we have not yet released as open source.
So the way in which I am wrong is that, at some undesignated time in the future, I will be wrong.

4. Formal Educational Institutions

Wiley concludes,
most of the disagreement (and occasional confusion) between Stephen and me is my desire to work within the context of existing formal educational institutions and his desire to work outside / around them. 
Yes. But also that really important bit about the goal of the OER movement and the other bit about endorsing a specific pedagogy.

But yes. I am focused on the 97%, not the 3%. Wiley might not like the way I phrased it...
I understand from the tone of Stephen’s comment that he believes the members of this “three percent” who attend formal educational institutions to be affluent and privileged. Maybe he doesn’t know that 14% of these students have been homeless in the last 12 months and 33% of them have experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days. Yes, there is definitely work that needs doing here, and yes, I intend to continue doing it.
This can all be true, and yet 225 million continues to be about 3% of 7 billion. That's not political philosophy, that's math.

Wiley is free to focus on the 3%. But his efforts to limit the entire OER movement as a whole to that demographic are (to my mind) misrepresentative and damaging.

6. Concluding Remarks

First, I think that the value that unites the OER movement is access for all, period and stop. Yes, individuals within the movement (including me) have additional goals. But these are different for each of us, and are over and above what we're working for in OER.

Second, I think that the decision-makers (or, as some would say, the stakeholders) include entire educational systems, and entire societies, and that we need to understand OER in the context of social policy, and not merely individual faculty decision-making.

Third, I think that many people equate 'open' with 'non-commercial' and that therefore exclusively non-commercial business models or licenses are, and ought to be treated as, fully open. 'Non-commercial' creates ways of limiting use, but 'commercial' creates ways of limiting access, and if we have to choose, many will choose 'non-commercial'.

Fourth, I think that 'educational' means much more than formal education, and applies to many more people than merely those who work at or are enrolled in formal educational institutions, and that any understanding of 'open' must mean 'open to non-formal education' as well as to formal education.

I am wary of efforts to deviate from these four principles, because I see them, ultimately, as efforts to undermine OER.


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