If you think 2016 is the year of OERs, you are probably deluding yourself. Every January for the last 14 years, OER evangelists have thought, “This is it – the year of OERs! Finally.” And why not? Why shouldn’t it be? After all, all we’re trying to do is give instructors and students free and high quality learning and teaching materials that will help them to teach and to learn better. Why wouldn’t anyone want this?
Well, the reality seems to be that 1) people simply don’t believe that OERs are really free, or 2) they think that what they find in repositories just isn’t as good as what publishers produce, or 3) they delusionally believe that they can make better stuff themselves. Those of us who have been working in the OER “industry” for a long time understand that none of this is true. OER’s really are free; they may or may not be as good as what publishers produce; and most people are amateurs when it comes to creating effective online teaching and learning materials. But the truth is, you can get OER’s for free!
But the real drawback to more widespread use of OERs is that people simply don’t have time to change what they’ve always been doing. That means that while they may silently recognize the fallacies in their objections, they really can’t be bothered to explore the value of OERs.
So what can we do to convince people to change their behavior and to do that which is good for them and their students? Probably nothing. The situation will not change until mandates and dictates are issued by administrators who recognize the benefits of OERs, in terms of quality and in terms of cost effectiveness, to promote OER use and reward OER users.
In the meantime, we evangelists have to keep doing what we’re doing so that when the time finally comes we can say, “I told you so.”
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