(Image Credit: jisc.ac.uk)
Wherever we look on the Internet we can gain information for free, but things are beginning to change. Increasing amounts of information are becoming only accessible if you’re willing to pay for it, and it’s an area which is being targeted as a strong and legitimate revenue stream for companies (Lepitak, 2013).
For those not already familiar with the concept of Open Education Resources (OER’s) the video below details how it works and presents some of the benefits of such a system.
From a personal perspective, having just completed my Dissertation my perspective on OER’s is obviously influenced by this. Looking back at it, if I’d had to pay just £1 for access to each online journal I’d read then it would have cost me a considerable amount of money, on top of the amount I’m already paying to attend University. The danger is, if we start having to pay for access to resources the whole concept of University starts to become increasingly inaccessible for all but the privileged. This is highlighted in an article in Forbes where Baraniuk highlights that by making one of his books freely available online it has been downloaded 3 million times since 1999, particularly in the Developing world (Baraniuk, 2014).
However, Research costs. Studies aren’t free. And Academics need to make a living. If people aren’t making money from licensing of their research there is a valid concern that the quality and quantity of Research may suffer. But there are plenty of people between Researchers and the Student who make money from our desire for knowledge. If OER are severely limited and become viewed as a good ‘money-maker’ surely there is a concern that prices will be driven up and quality could be compromised in an attempt to satisfy the demands of a Multi-National Company with the sole aim to make a profit. Whatever happens in the future, there is no denying that the face of OER’s is changing and we’re currently in the middle of an Educational Revolution (Wiley et al., 2012).
Baraniuk, R. (2014) The Future of Online Education. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2014/02/13/the-future-of-online-education/ Accessed: May 2015.
Lepitak, S. (2013) 90% of Online Content to be held behind Paywalls in Three Years Media Company suggests. The Drum. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests Accessed: May 2015.
Wiley, D. Green, C. and Soares, L. (2012) Dramatically Bringing down the cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the door to Free Learning. Centre for American Progress. Washington. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535639 Accessed: May 2015.