OER and Sandra Lee’s 70/30 Semi-Homemade Cooking

I’d never heard of the IKEA effect, the tendency of people to overvalue work done themselves, but it seems really pertinent to OER (and OpenCourseWare). 

As an example, Dan Ariely points out when cake mixes were first introduced, you just added water. Simple! And no one bought them. 

After focus groups they found the problem — they were doing too much for home cooks. Cooks found food they had cooked themselves to be more desirable. It was hard to get passionate about box mix. 

The solution? A reformulated mix that required home cooks to add eggs and oil. It flew off the shelves. Ariely points to the Sandra Lee line of 70/30 semi-homemade products as an example of a refinement of this formula. The pitch? We’ll do 70% of the work for you. For some reason that formulation resonates — it’s OK to do most of the work, but leave me something significant and personalized.

To practiced cooks, I’m sure it seems ridiculous, and it’s easy to mock. That’s not cooking, right?

But most people aren’t practiced cooks, yet would still like to be involved in what they produce. In education 70/30 is a vast improvement over the two poles it sits between; on the one hand, the “not built here” syndrome that keeps us from collective iterative improvement, and other the other hand lockstep scripted curricula that deaden the soul of teachers everywhere and send them fleeing to other occupations. And it’s pretty clear that Open Curriculum/Ed. Resources is an easy way to accommodate that.

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