danoff dot org ∞ Teaching Lab' ∞ The U.P. ∞ ENG 099 ∞ paragogy.net
Recently Flat World Knowledge decided to no longer offer their Educational content openly, i.e., you can not read it for free. This in the wake of Coursera and related massive courses success (Cf. New York Times & Time Magazine), as David Wiley noted in his blog:
As I’ve been saying, the real risk of the On the Fence MOOCs (aka xMOOCs) is that they confuse people about “open.” “Open” does not “mean free to access but copyrighted,” like Udacity and Coursera are. Open means free access plus free 4R permissions. The On the Fence MOOCs are drawing energy and attention away from where the real battle is happening – in open educational resources. OER is the only space where everyone has permission to make and redistribute the changes necessary to best support learning in their local context.
I share the opinion of Ariel Diaz quoted here by Inside Higher Ed (Disclaimer, I proudly do work for Boundless):
Ariel Diaz, co-founder and CEO of Boundless, said he did not see Flat World’s strategy shift as a sign that “free and open” can’t work for anyone.
“This reinforces the notion that sustainable biz models are hard to find, and I don’t think that’s a surprise,” said Diaz. “We still see the opportunity to make the case that we’re better because we’re free and open, in that we can leverage the eyeballs and error-finding that we get from our community to lead to a better product as a result.”
So, to answer Anya Kamenetz’s question:
Bloggers coming out of the open content world have accordingly been raising concerns about everything from the fine print of Coursera’s licensing agreements to the pedagogical soundness of multiple choice quizzes and peer grading to the term MOOC itself. MOOCs were pioneered, and the term coined, seven or eight years ago by ed-tech figures like George Siemens and Stephen Downes who were consciously committed to free and open-source content and software, and a new wiki-style of learning enabled by the web where everyone teaches everyone else, dubbed “connectivism”; the corporate MOOC is not only much bigger but far more conventional and commercial. Is openness dead, or will it come back to fight another round?
I am here to say Openness is not dead, and that if Wikipedia has taught us anything the best way to make a useful, robust Educational resource is by making it Open.
If you liked this you will probably enjoy reading my 2011 essay “Finding Concerts for OERcisians:Independent Academics & Scratch (Money)"