Who should make OERs?

I just wanted to capture a concern and some thoughts around it. Today I heard it said in a meeting that available OERs are of low quality, irrespective of their cost. This was used to justify the statement that we should not expect OERs to be cheap, we should focus on their quality even if that means that they are expensive. This certainly doesn't sound like something I should be concerned about but it is. It can be used to justify spending vast sums of money to have a few experts write material which is released under an open licence.

Let's consider the first sentiment, ask yourself if you agree with the following:

Ok, simple sarcasm aside, it is not true that there are no good OERs around. The adaptability, the community and the formats can be questioned and debated but they can be called OERs and they are not rubbish. So why am I concerned, well the statement was made without challenge (yes I should have said something) in a room with many people who are policy makers. The danger to letting it go unchallenged is that once sweeping one-liners are absorbed they seem to be hard to refute.

The statement undermines our work because it sounds like you should just pay experts to make perfect material, it does not tell us to build community, it does not move to foster an environment of adaptation, all it does is go the minimum distance to use the "OER" banner but not the spirit captured by the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. It sounds a lot like what publisher's should be doing but just with the copyright licence modified - which is not what OERs are really about.

The greatest benefit to community developed OERs is that many people do get involved in the process, root materials of high quality can then quickly and effectively be adapted to many contexts, something which would be prohibitively expensive. More people are able to add value in ways that we cannot yet imagine. Materials of poor quality are opened up to vast scrutiny and quickly improved or discarded. The wonderful thing is that there may be gems hidden within poor material and they can be used, an idea, an example or some other piece can be used by anyone, in any way that helps them achieve their goals. Further adaptation follows.

It is true that we haven't yet seen a huge volume of material produced by a large community, or have we ... ;)


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