Purpose-driven OER

Photo Credit: Marc Romer

Photo Credit: Marc Romer

I think this post of David’s is right, mostly (though I think the title is a bit misleading).

I think it also keys into a broader shift that is happening. OER projects are increasingly driven by very specific ends and defined needs. As David points out, when we move efficacy and access out of the core OER definition it allows creators and funding agencies to apply more specific and local criteria for evaluation.

And this is good. I think we’ve romanticized the “purpose-neutral” nature of much OER. There’s nothing wrong with OER that is released with no end in mind. This blog post is yours to take if you want it. I’m writing it, it makes sense to release it without knowing what use it might be put to. Take it if you want. That’s good practice, and can result in a lot of unexpected benefits.

But given the pressing social and educational problems we face, it makes sense that focus would and should move away from “general openness” projects, and towards (at least partially) specific projects that present strong opportunities to improve our shared lot at a reasonable cost. Projects, dare I say it, that are designed (or expanded) with a purpose in mind. And this is what’s happening, thankfully, as openness becomes an attribute we desire in our social solutions rather than an end in itself.

Moving issues of general access and universal efficacy outside the definition of OER seems like a good step towards that.

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