From Open Source to Open Educational Resources

Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source
David Wiley, OER18, January 29, 2018

In this guest post on the ALT OER18 conference website, David Wiley foreshadows his April 2018 keynote talk in Bristol.

2018 is significant for both David and the open education movement as it marks 20 years since David began working on the idea of open licensing content, drawing inspiration from the world of open source software. The first half of the post is an important piece of open education history as David recounts the inspiration behind open licenses, and his early work in OER's, drawing parallels between OER's and the early days of free vs open software.

Where the post kicks into overdrive is when David outlines the benefits that commercial participants bring to the open source software world. Today, open source thrives with the support and active participation of corporate entities in the development of open source software. Indeed, you don't have to spend a lot of time poking around around Fortune 500 companies like IBM and Microsoft to see how their contributions to open source software & OSS communities have helped sustain OSS, despite the fact that in the early days of OSS these corporations were often seen as antithetical to OSS ideals and goals. Today they are important contributors, often because they benefit from the open source software in some way.

Could OER's and corporations exist in the same symbiotic way? Could Pearson sustain OER's in the same way that Microsoft, Facebook and Google support open source software? David argues that it is possible and, indeed, necessary if OER's are to achieve the same level of mainstream acceptance that OSS has.

For many in the open education community, it is a very provocative thought to enter into such a reciprocal relationship with corporate entities. And it is this provocation that will likely create some very stimulating and interesting discussions at OER18.

Maybe not so much these days? Photo: Open source = Communism by David Erikson CC-BY-SA