Hi Christina,

Thanks for the thoughtful critique. I worried about the point that you’re making while i was writing the post and hoped that the open source analogy would help explaining the point i was trying to make.

I am in no way suggesting that it is ‘not possible’ to have the user in mind in either the open source or OER vision of open education. I am suggesting that when one focuses on licensing of content, however good, well meaning, incredibly well structured that content, one is focusing on the product and not on the user.

Let me try and create an example. If two groups of people were given a million dollars to work on open education, one from one model and one from the other, how might the difference in their core values affect the approach they would take to project planning?

In a creator based approach you might go around, look at the content that is being currently used, find ways to create better content, maybe cheaper content, maybe more ethical content. You would find some great content creators, do some research into where the content is, build a project plan that might create some great course textbooks… think the school library project or the new one at BC Campus. (I’m throwing ideas here… work with me. We’ve all seen terrible wastes of money in both kinds of open projects… i’m trying to find a middle ground 🙂 )

Look… i think open access is a critical component to the future of any education system that i want to be part of… i just think that it often becomes the goal rather than the instrument. I think this happens because, as I’ve tried to illustrate here, it’s roots are in the creator culture of open source, where we build things SO THAT THEY WILL SPREAD first and foremost. It’s the secret neo-liberal underpinning we inherited from O’reilly.

When your first and foremost goal is widening participation… I’m thinking… that changes the ways in which you choose instruments. Maybe the instrument you need is something like OER, maybe it isn’t. But for me ‘openness’ is better when it isn’t restricted to the creator class and is lasered in on the user.