A reflection for Open Education Week.
I was asked by Open Book Publishers to write a short statement/testimonial on “why it is important to publish educational resources in Open Access and/or why do you think Open Education is key to the future of learning?” The original is posted on their site with other reflections from people who have published open books. Do read them. I’m cross posting here as part of my own curation.
The suggested subject for this reflection was “why it is important to publish educational resources in Open Access,” but I’m not happy with that emphasis on the end point. It’s important that learning resources are not static once published, rather on publication a resource enters an iterative cycle of revision-reuse-evaluation-reflection.
My starting point for sharing educational resources was that high quality teaching and learning resources are difficult and time consuming to create; and like anything that is difficult and time consuming they are costly in terms of money or, more frequently, unpaid effort. To me, OER made sense as a means of sharing the effort of creating learning resources, dividing work between partners with different skills and viewpoints. It also made sense to get input from a wider range of contributors in such a way that the result is of use to a wider audience, providing a greater return for this effort.
This view has consequences not just for publishing, but for authoring and resource management during an extended lifecycle. Key among these are the need for collaborative authoring processes, tools that support these processes, and publication in formats that are interoperable with these tools. So, it is important to publish educational resources in open access because this supports a sustainable approach to the creation and widespread use of quality educational resources.
Just to expand a little on that final paragraph, I would stress that David Wiley’s ALMS framework is as important as his 5Rs (“Poor Technical Choices Make Open Content Less Open“) and highlight the interoperability of ePub in this context. When it comes to book publishing would like to call out people such as PressBooks, BookSprints and the CoKo foundation for their leadership on tools that facilitate open, collaborative authoring (though I know that this only scrapes the surface of people doing great things in collaborative content creation). Finally, thanks to Open Book Publishers for the excuse to spend a few minutes thinking about this.