Topic 5: Reflective Summary

When I first read the introduction to Topic 5 I have to admit I was a little put off, I wasn’t sure what I could possibly say about it. But actually, it has proved to be one of the most interesting topics.

While most people focussed on the Academic impact of Open Access, but Jack showed a totally different side that I hadn’t really considered until I read his Blog. He showed how services such as Music and Gaming Platforms are experiencing similar discussions as to what the future holds in regards to open access.

I thought that Jens really highlighted what is for me the main concern in regards to current access to Journal Articles. That is that prices are currently rising faster than the rate of Inflation, which means they are being used as a major income generator for the companies which own them. It was in the comments on Jens article that I noticed an interesting point being raised by Leigh; that less money being generated by Universities and Academics from the publishing of Research could in turn limit the academic employment opportunities for Graduate Students looking for a future in Academia.

But Namat brought forward another dimension to the argument. He presented the idea that because much of the research that is used to create Online Journals is actually done so using data which has been funded by public money, so the fact that we have to pay to access it is a little problematic for a lot of people.

Overall, I have to admit I’m still a little undecided. In an ideal world we would be able to access all articles entirely free, but people need to make a living, the work needs to be researched, developed, reviewed and maintained. As I said in my original post, none of this is free. I struggle to see an option which will keep all parties happy so it will be interesting to see where this goes in the future.

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Blogs I commented on:

Namat

Jack

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Topic 5: Want to Read this Journal? That’ll be £20 Please.

Open Education Resources

(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).

References:

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.