OER: the cowboy gospel? #altc2011

“A lot of you need churchin’ – And some of y’all need birchin’ “

I was subject to significant ribbing regarding how easily the role of banjo playing, bible thumping, traveller preacher man came to me. In a session with more and weirder accents than a Bulgarian PC keyboard, what I said in a vignette of the old west was fairly close to the kind of thing I say anyway – as I think, in a way, it was for all of us.

We chose our roles freely – Amber the sheriff, Helen the gadabout, Dave the settler and me. And at many points during the panel session it was difficult to tell whether we were in character or not. Talking about William Tyndale to Diana Laurillard whilst dressed as an C19th preacher was, probably, the oddest thing I’ve done at a conference since – er – talking to Diana Laurillard about guitar tab and OLGA at #OER11 (note to self: maybe do some “proper” conference presentations one day?).

(image: with thanks to Jackie Carter)

To me, questions around the lasting place of OER as a concept were most interesting. There seemed to be general agreement that the gains in knowledge, experience and understanding we had made via the OER experience were permanent, and were a lasting part of the landscape we are cultivating beyond the frontiers of academic publishing. Whether we would continue to be using it as a term in future seemed more open to question… @ajcann and others argue (and argue convincingly) that OER is not, and should not be, a demand side term. They are right.

But on the supply side it is a useful bundle of concepts, and provides a focal encapsulation of a number of issues that academia (and I would argue, wider society) is struggling with. My contention was that OER was a symptom of a wider systemic issue, which takes in publishing, the idea of the public intellectual, online life, online practice and information as a right. As long as the machinations of legislators and company lobbyists keep propping up the bodies of the dead business models, we will need something like OER as an alternative. If we’re getting Hegelian about it, what is likely to emerge is a series of compromises that will require us “open evangelists” to sup with the devil and the (printer’s?) devils themselves to put down the pitchforks and open the gates a little.

As long as the aggravating conditions are still there, the symptom will be there in some form. Maybe we’ll be hurting our hosts in other places in the future, expanding fair use, improving citation… but there is no cure for us. And if left unchecked, we will do the system some real damage. It took nearly 400 years between Roman persecution of Christians, and the Romanisation of Christianity with the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Thessalonica. We’ll be faster, though no-one will know the day or the hour when the publishers and the authors they exploit finally convert to openness.

Multimedia-wise there’s a full (if rough) audio recording of the session (which covers an amazing amount of serious ground alongside the cowboyLOLs), courtesy of @easegill and wonderful #ds106radio, on soundcloud. And @jamesclay offered a startling ALT Live Beta video interview with the four of us in full western regalia, complete with banjo music. I suspect there is more video to come from the session too. And of course the trailer. All of it brought to you by CC-BY!  

Thinking beyond edupunk and eduprog, Amber asked “have we invented ALT country?”

This post represents my own views, not those of my employer. It is available under a CC-BY license.

So what’s the deal with fair dealing?

These are my views and not those of my employer, or of projects and programmes I am responsible for. This post is available under a creative commons CC-BY license. I am not a lawyer or a legal expert, the post below reflects my interpretation of the law as I understand it, based on openly available materials.

A few people are starting to question why we need creative commons licensing for resources when we have fair use and fair dealing exemptions for education and research in most IPR systems globally. Here’s why:

1. Fair use/fair dealing rights vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Creative Commons is global, with teams of localised experts ensuring that the licenses are re-presented in language suitable for many jurisdictions. Using something under the terms of a CC license is the same in Boston, MA as it is in Boston, Lincolnshire. But “fair use” (the US terminology) for educational reasons is very different from “fair dealing” (the UK terminology) – fair dealing is much more restricted in the UK with much less scope for argument (an issue I’ll come to later).

In the UK, fair dealing rights are set out under the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act. You have rights to use an “excerpt” of a copyright work for non-commercial research or private study, criticism and review or news reporting. You’ll note that none of these are defined precisely – those of you attending #OER11 will hear me speak about an example where a non-commercial research exemption which seemed to me pretty watertight was successfully challenged.

The web is global. Information is global. A jurisdiction-specific right is almost irrelevant in such a world
2. Fair use/fair dealing rights don’t allow for republishing or sharing.

Fair dealing allows for copies of excerpts of copyrighted works to be made for educational purposes by a librarian, tutor or student, for use by a known student or group of students. If you want to show your awesome materials to prospective students, you (legally) can’t. If you want to share slides with the woman you share your office with, you (legally) can’t. If you want to build something on top of data that is used under “fair dealing”, you (legally) can’t. And as implied above, if you want to use materials made by that guy from Michigan you met at that conference, you (legally) can’t. 

3. Fair use/fair dealing rights are legally arguable, CC licenses are clear and unarguable.

This for me is key – fair dealing isn’t something that keeps you out of court, it’s an argument you can use in court to stop yourself being fined for breaching copyright. It’s not a watertight defence, there are (intentional) grey areas an in the end it will all come down to the interpretation of a judge. You’ll be very unlikely to get to a stage where you can argue fair use – and there’s no financial legal aid for doing so. You or your institution will pay to make this argument. You are more likely to settle out of court with a publisher who has serious money and can afford to keep taking you to court until you give them more. Fair dealing is an occasionally valid excuse for copyright infringement – it does not mean that you are exempt from copyright law, and does not grant you the range of tangible rights that a license does.

There are very few examples of creative commons case law – this is because creative commons licenses are pretty much unarguable. They are clear, unambiguous user-friendly and well written. It’s not worth the bother of even going to court with a CC license, you know the license will be upheld.

Here’s a lovely UK summary of fair dealing produced by the UK Copyright Service and made available under a Creative Commons license, which I think is rather telling.

But this comes down to my interpretation. If people are going to talk about fair use/fair dealing as an alternative to creative commons at the very least we all need to learn more about it. I’d love a response from a real law person.

And here is a response from a real law person – Naomi Korn at OER IPR support.  Thanks Naomi!

For a few dollars more? – OER, reuse and value.

The opinions expressed within this blog post are my own, and not those of my employer, or of projects or programmes I am responsible for. This post is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.


Allow me to start with a (deliberately) controversial statement: “The resources themselves are the least valuable aspect of OER, and academic reuse is the least valuable aspect of these resources.


I don’t propose to be able to defend that entirely – but it is indicative of the way my mind is moving after reading a wonderful post by Tony Bates yesterday, and continuing to reflect on David Wiley’s position and the findings of the UKOER Evaluation and Synthesis final report.


As someone who is involved in a major funded programme of OER release, I want to be doubly clear that I don’t think that this work has been a waste of time – or that the content created is without merit, or that current investigations into content reuse are worthless. Far from it. I’m more inclined to believe that that what we have gained from our work is not what many people have argue that we have gained. It is far, far, more.


(And the least valuable is still pretty damn valuable.)


(sorry about all the caveats – but I know I am at risk of being taken out of context here. Can you believe that some people read this blog purely to find things to complain about? Yes, really! )



OER is interesting – as a concept, as a process, and as an entity.


(image credit: cybermule [from personal archive] – obvious nod of the hat to Sergio)


As a concept – and as Joss Winn and Richard Hall have argued – it poses serious questions for our understanding of what education is, and what institutions should be doing. Both in grander terms, concerning our understanding of knowledge and the value our society accords to it, and in less radical everyday thoughts about attribution, and how we discover and use material. I think that the volume of critical thought that OER has already created is immensely valuable – it has served as a genuinely new contribution to the age-old “purpose of education” debates, which are becoming increasingly essential in a higher education sector dealing with rapid transformational change.


As a process, OER pushes consideration of intellectual property and pedagogy into the creation of materials for use in teaching. It makes us consider how much effort we put in (or don’t) to ensuring that we have the best possible teaching aids for use with our students. And it engages what used to be the sole academic – working on their own to produce a hand-out, slides or a complex tool – with both the idea and the actuality of a community of practice, doing the same and similar things. This is the theme that I don’t think many have focused on (though the OPAL project is a visible and notable exception) but it is where we are seeing a lot of movement. If you are engaged with OER creation, it becomes a part of your use practice. From properly citing images used on PowerPoint slides, to automatically searching for open resources as a preference, to thinking “could I create this in such a way I could release it openly” – involvement in or engagement with OER “release” fundamentally changes your “use” practices.


As an entity, an OER is available for use and inspiration. It can be modified, it can be altered, it can be used within agglomerations of material from a variety of sources, modified and republished. It can be linked to as part of a course. It can also be read and recreated (partially or fully), or read in order to inspire work in a particular direction. And all these things can be done by everyone, not just academics and students.


And, as David Wiley says – most of the “entity” points are also true of content that is simply visible. Not all (not the ones in the first line), but certainly the most common ones. I’ve been around the loop before concerning the long term (10yr+) goal of the UK government to see academic sharing as common practice, and (outside of a few excellent examples around community based projects like Humbox and Connexions) this has not been a resounding success. I don’t go as far as David does regarding openness being an additional production cost – academics produce resources anyway (which is where the cost is) making these resources OER at this point of creation is trivial – at most a few dollars more for 5 mins checking a license. You could even argue that making resources that are not usable by the whole world is a (substantial) additional production cost!


But I do agree that it is an additional attention cost. And I think that this is entirely a good thing. OER creation focuses attention on IPR and pedagogic choice. Precisely what we want academics to be thinking about when creating resources, and if we are connecting people together as they create (through a community like #ukoer on twitter, Humbox or something else), even better. And if we are contributing to discussions on the future of HE by doing so – fantastic. Note that none of these benefits require the actual availability or find-ability of OER – this is almost like a potential additional benefit. And this potential additional benefit is primarily to people outside academia entirely, or students new to academia – people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to that knowledge or that opportunity for learning. Wikipedia (and similar projects) fulfil a lot of these needs, and the growth of academic input (rather than hostility) is welcome. But sometimes actual academic resources – short paper, annotated diagram, lecture recording – can go further than that.


Academic reuse – it’s long-tail, at best. There is a chance that there will be something useful, but as the needs of educators are so varied, no more than a chance. It’s worth looking – but it’s equally possible that building your own materials is the best option. As Tony Bates concluded: OERs need skill and hard work to make them useful [to others], and selling them as a panacea for education does more harm than good. OER reuse will make some things easier for some academics, some of the time.


But is this our only reason for releasing content openly? The concept and process benefits are already being seen, as are (increasingly) the benefits to independent learners and new students – the entity benefits to academics are too but on a smaller scale, and will take time to become fully understood. Have we got the luxury of the time needed to make that argument, and explain why it may be of lesser impact than many initially suggested?


When the chimes end, pick up your gun.

An #ukoer Christmas Carol (and 9 Lessons)

These are my personal opinions and not those of my employer, or the programmes and projects I am responsible for. The following is available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This is a particularly grim and cheerless December for Higher Education in the UK, I hope you will forgive me a brief moment of levity and Christmas cheer.

An OER Christmas Carol (and 9 Lessons)

“The VLE was dead”: to begin with. There was no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of its burial was signed by James Clay and Co at ALT-C 2009. The old VLE was as dead as a doornail.

I’d never painted out the Old VLE’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the repository deposit interface. Some people called it the VLE, some people called it the Learning Object repository – ’twas all the same to me.

Once upon a time – of all the good days of the year, on Christmas Eve, I sat busy at my desk. I was counting up the number of learning materials in the repository, scowling at the list of figures as they steadfastly refused to add up to the required 360 credits. And unless we could reach that magical number by the end of term, the dastardly Lord Browne would call in his debts, and the Old Repository would be as dead as the Old VLE.

“Merry Christmas, repository manager, and God save you!” called my assistant through the door I had left open to keep an eye on her as she wrote the final and completion reports. 

“Bah!” I said. “Humbug!”

“Christmas – a humbug? returned my assistant gaily. “You don’t mean that, I am sure”.

“I do,” I said. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? With Lord Browne’s judgement due tomorrow you will be poor enough.”

My assistant left the room prudently, without an angry word. And as the hum of our ancient RAID array filled the void, I felt myself drift towards a strange and troubled sleep. Was I indeed asleep, or awake, or in some state between the two… as I picked up a case study I had previously discarded, and began to read the words on the last piece of yellowing recycled paper… 


Conclusions and Recommendations

1. Check the licence carefully.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

” I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Revelation 22:18-19

It took some effort to find the license(s) for the Bible, as they are presented in a non-standard format, and are split between two sections of the material. What we appear to have is an attribution license, with specific authorisation for use in an educational context, alongside a “no derivatives” clause, which goes into particular and alarming detail regarding the penalties for a breach of the license terms. 

Clearly under the terms of this license the Revelation of St John of Patmos should never be included in an aggregation of material, or indeed translated. However the fact that this is actually what has happened suggests that the terms of this license were not clearly understood at the AD 397 Council of Carthage.

Seeing the Bible as an aggregation also gives us an issue regarding the Second Epistle of St Paul to Timothy – what did it mean by “all scripture”? Was the apostle referring to the present collection (as codified nearly 350 after the accepted date of composition), a specific class of document marked as “scripture” (there isn’t anything in Dublin Core), or something else entirely? Unclear wording of license terms has always caused issues for end users, but seldom of this magnitude.

Our conclusions here must be that “no derivatives” licences effectively must be broken in order to allow resources to be reused in any way, and that other licenses must be clear about the work that is being referred to.

2.  Building in openness from the start is easier than repurposing existing materials.

” A voice of one calling: 
In the wilderness prepare 
  the way for the LORD; 
make straight in the desert
  a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be raised up, 
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
  the rugged places a plain.”
Isaiah 40:3-4

Preparation is everything in open release. Rather than have the Lord do all this tedious checking of individual components, a project manager by the name of John was engaged to clear the relevant resources.  However, this did not end well as he subsequently lost his life in a bizarre ritualistic killing in a Jerusalem nightclub, to which royal links have been made. The resultant lack of preparation may have been linked to later difficulties regarding the engagement of senior stakeholders.

3. Don’t ask too for much from metadata.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.” Luke 2:1-3

This is a classic example of the way in which repository managers can fail to appreciate the inconvenience that may be caused to depositors by an emphasis on the quality of metadata. A repository manager several steps removed from the user community chose to arrange records by their provenance, which meant that materials had to be returned to their original point of creation. This caused an enormous strain on infrastructure and storage systems, and brought the entire area to a grinding halt at the busiest time of year. We would conclude that it is essential that those with responsibility for repositories balance the user experience with the need for accurate data.

4.  Authorship and ownership are different concepts.

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:18-19

Here, an academic (Joseph) claimed ownership of a resource he had no part in creating, for selfless political reasons. Laudable as such an action is, this mis-attribution subsequently caused problems in assessing the provenance of the resource when it was re-used. It is important that resources are attributed to both the author, and the body claiming ownership of the work.

5. Content quality is more important than reputation

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
 though you are small among the clans of Judah, 
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
  from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2

Despite the generally low academic standing of the then Bethlehem University College (now the University of North Jerusalem) and reports of academics being housed in conditions suitable only for livestock, some very high quality resources have been released. Increasingly in an OER world, it is the quality of material, rather than its provenance, that is seen as important.

6.  Make intelligent use of marketing.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. “ Luke 2:8-9

This is one of a pair of useful examples of dissemination practice drawn from this case study. Here, a great effort has been made to draw people to visit the resources, including celebrity endorsement and son-et-lumiere. However we must compare the probable expense of this marketing with its end results, as only a small number of shepherds actually visited the site in question. It appears wasteful to go to the expense of engaging the Angel of the Lord, a host of angels singing, and covering associated AV and event management costs in order to attract so few users. Better use could have been made of this marketing opportunity.

7. Make open content visible and discoverable.

” After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

Here, a much better example of marketing used a simple tag to draw international users to resources. Despite this, the users in question needed to ask a number of contacts in the Jerusalem area for further information, suggesting that the specific resource was not, after all, easy to find. The fact that the international visitors initially went to Jerusalem rather than Bethlehem may point to an underlying issue with Bethlehem’s reputation.

On finding the resource, the visitors were startled to see the low quality of the infrastructure, but recognised the quality of the resource and left a substantial endowment. There is no audit trail regarding the use of this endowment, which we ascribe to the poor overall standard of documentation.

8.  Open, informal, learning is amazing
“Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” John 7: 14-15

There is real evidence presented here of the use of OER in informal learning, and the reputational benefits of informal learning. A community of scholars was initially incredulous, but eventually convinced by the quality of work produced. However, this led eventually to jealously and animosity from institutional managers, and serious problems faced in the later career of the academic in question. Had APEL been available within the Jewish Temple system then history could have been very different – independent learners often face difficulties in demonstrating their accomplishments.

9. Openness is (eventually) inevitable

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17

Whereas the documentation suggests that the LORD will sit in judgement over all on a fiery throne, until that (often posponed) QA event occurs quality assurance has to be carried out by peers. There are currently two incompatible systems in place, one using a set of accredited experts and the other relying more on the layity offering advice and guidance. Simply in terms of scale the latter is more resilient, the former representing a huge overhead. Both systems suffer from disagreement and multiple interpretations of guidance documents – the hierarchical system is able to rule on these issues (though this is often criticised as ignoring the user voice), whereas the folksonomic sysem tends to fragment into competing subsystems. We await with interest the coming of the quality assurance manager, and hope that earlier predictions of this causing enormous upheaval, changes to working practices, war, famine, pestilence, death and water purity issues are overstated.

As all materials will be openly available at this point, it makes sense to recommend that users prepare for openness as soon as possible…


… rubbing my eyes, I awoke to find myself in my office, but not my office – a warm and bright place, filled with cheer and light and Christmas joy. My flushed and delighted-looking assistant pressed a glass of mulled wine into my hand. I sipped and yawned as she babbled…

“… so I put out a special request on the ALL-STAFF mailing list, and on the intranet, and on twitter with the #ukoer tag… so many people have been coming in and dropping off materials… images, text, video, audio, even SCORN-compliant learning objects… thank you!” – she smiled at the Dean of Philosophy who had put a DVD filled with correctly tagged reading lists on the pile – “… and everyone has really pulled together for the sake of OER…cheers!” – an august and bearded Professor of Applied Linguistics toasted us as he uploaded the last of his prized collection of dialect recordings to the repository – “… and look, here comes the music department…”

I heard a band playing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and before I knew it, I was dancing in a circle, singing, and beaming at everyone in the candlelight. I’d never felt so happy and at peace… until a black-gloved hand touched my shoulder.

“I see you are within reach of your end of year target,” purred Lord Browne in a dark, oily voice. “Allow me to contribute.”, and yes – his Report, his precious Report so written about and so feared – was disaggregated and rendered into granular objects ready for deposit. “Congratulations!”

“God bless you, you crazy old open learning repository” yelled the Academic Registrar, as around us dancers circled and church bells rang louder than the cheers of what appeared to be the whole body of staff and students. “Merry Christmas, every one of us!”.

“Till auld aquaintence be forgot, and never brought to mind…” we sang lustily, as a tiny ringing bell indicated another successful deposit…

(… and far above us, in CETIS, Wilbert Kraan had finally got his wings.)


blogging on blogging on #ukoer

The opinions expressed within this blog post are my own, and not those of my employer, or of projects or programmes I am responsible for. This post is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

For the purposes of future re-enactments of this post, I would like to confirm that all of the bloggers mentioned here were at all times dressed in the traditional blogger attire of red cape and goggles and that all posts linked to were (to the best of my knowledge) made from high-altitude hot air balloons.

Three people said to me yesterday that they were finding the current rush of ideological commentary on OER difficult or impossible to keep up with. So, I’m going to try to do an occasional series of these posts to help people keep up. I also note that blogging about blogging is inherently naff. So I’m cringing slightly as I write this.

I’d like to emphasise that it is not essential to follow any of the wider conversations around OER to be a part of OER as a movement. People release OER for all kinds of reasons, from a simple desire to give knowledge and education to the world, to a need to better market what their institution offers to students, to a will to destabilise the current structures of power around intellectual capital. What I love about OER is that it allows all of these reasons to co-exist, whilst still uniting everyone in a common cause of getting learning materials out there in some way that allows people to make use of them.

At the moment, there is a bit of an argument going on between David Wiley and Stephen Downes, both edublogging superstars of some renown. As I understand it, Downes sees Creative Commons as essentially a way of shoring up the idea of copyright and as potentially harmful to a longer term goal of reforming intellectual property. But Wiley is arguing that Creative Commons is a necessary fix to copyright, and enables us to be a lot of things that we could not otherwise do. And as every workaround to a system is a reason to re-examine the system, it is actually doing the copyright reform agenda a lot of good.

But then Joss Winn chips in (as a comment on Wiley’s post) to suggest that certain forms of Creative Commons do in fact shore up an existing system of the exploitation of intellectual capital. He prefers the “copyleft” (share-alike) licenses, and the public domain (CC0) licenses, as he feels these successfully negate the intrinsic capital value placed on intellectual and cultural works. What Winn wants (and I’m just inferring here, only Winn can say what he really wants… in fact I think he’d admit that he’s not worked it out yet) is a system where people are not valued solely for what they have produced or can produce – which would require the effective abolition of private property. To say that this is outside of the political mainstream is maybe to state the obvious… it’s certainly an attractive idea, but as a programme manager how can I help but think about process and implementation 😉

It’s maybe useful for the slightly interested reader to think about where they stand as regard the purpose of Creative Commons licensing and what they (personally) hope to achieve by it. In Higher and Further Education, we do need to be wary of uncritical action, and this kind of reflection can be very useful. But there are always going to be people that disagree with your understanding, which is what makes this an (academically as well as practically) interesting field.

David Wiley (where does he find the time?) has also been arguing with Steve Carson, a key player in the OpenCourseWare Consortium and in MIT OCW (which, it could be argued, is the birthplace of the modern OER movement). Carson has been digging through a lot of qualitative data he has built up over the years around the benefits that academics and students involved in the use of OER, and has provided an interesting list of commonly observed benefits. Wiley’s point is that these benefits are not predicated on the “openness” of the materials, and the same benefits could have been realised (he argues) with the copyrighted release thus avoiding what he cites as the additional expense of preparing materials for open release.

Exercise for the reader – does Wiley contradict himself between his position defined against Downes and his position defined against Carson? Explain, with examples, your answer. (8 marks)

Now, within UKOER we can actually answer Wiley, by noting that we have found that the additional costs of open release only exist where we attempt to “open” existing materials. Where material is designed by academics with open release in mind, the release itself is trivial. And MIT (notably) has a model entirely based on the redevelopment of materials centrally by the institution rather than engaging academic staff with the openness agenda – which wouldn’t have even got you funded at UKOER phase 1. But what Wiley is doing is arguing as a way of advancing our understanding. As he says himself:

“Let me be clear: I don’t want OCW to be unsuccessful. I want openness and transparency to become absolutely ubiquitous throughout formal education. I’m not trying to tear down MIT OCW or any other OCW initiative (I’ve been involved in a couple myself). I’m just trying to be the little child who asks a naive question about the emperor’s new outfit: Why are we investing so much in the use of open licenses if open licenses don’t enable the benefits we care most about? And, If open licenses don’t enable the benefits we care most about, what benefits do they enable? Are those secondary benefits worth the very significant investment we’re making in them?”

So the questions he is raising here are, again, about the benefits of open release and our reasons for being involved in it. You’ll see this in a number of posts which are attempting to advance OER both as a self-aware movement and as an emerging academic field. And in many ways the question can never be answered with so many different reasons for being involved co-existing.

Is OER doing what you want it to do? That is the single question all of this discussion and political theorising is asking. And your answer to that is as valuable and as valid as anyone elses.