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Reply from a list: Open access and the gravy train

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By Rory McGreal November 11, 2012 - 10:48am

Roger,
One can often not see the forest for the trees. Your argument below could just as easily be applied to the for-profit academic publishing industry as to the OER economy. The for-profit industry gets nearly ALL of its funding from government funneled through institutional libraries (I refer to scholarly journals and books; OER books are  paid for by students, but even this money is often paid for with government loans.). It is a fast track conveyor belt moving government funds into publishers' bank accounts. Governments change; library directors change; this too can change. Library funding to feed the coffers of publishers can be diverted to open access publishers. And in this way, I fear, that for-profit educational publishers could disappear. If the gravy train stops running, so do the free riders.

FREE for publishers does mean that there are NO associated costs for them in acquiring the content. The institutions and their employees give them their articles for FREE and review them for FREE.

The bottom line to me is that the for-profit funding model is NOT sustainable. Students, institutions and governments can stop paying their exorbitant prices. Open access and OER publishing will be part of any sustainable funding model that emerges.

All the best.
Rory

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On 12-11-11 8:12 AM, Roger Powley (Shaw 2) wrote:

Jacky:  You are right, FREE does not mean there isn’t an associated cost.  Every organization that offers OER or other free educational content requires a funding source or a generous host.  Many sites are hosted by universities who have made a commitment to the concept of knowledge distribution through OER creation and distribution.  Other OER sponsored sites rely on government or not-for profit grants from organizations like the Hewett Foundation. 

But the reliance on grants and the good graces of academic institutions can be fleeting.  Government priorities change.  Non-Profit funding is often time limited.  Universities are experiencing financial pressures to do more with less.  A large number of initiatives have failed because of lack of funds.  We as a community are currently riding a funding wave of support from governments and others.  I fear that this wave will eventually disappear, especially if we enter another recession. 

The bottom line is that the OER community has no sustainable funding model.  The reliance on others to pay will eventually be our downfall.  We need a way of generating funds that is sustainable so that we can continue to provide free and continuous access to our OER content. 

Cheers, Roger

 

Roger Powley, CD PhD

From: oer-forum-bounces+rlpowley=shaw.ca@lists.esn.org.za [mailto:oer-forum-bounces+rlpowley=shaw.ca@lists.esn.org.za] On Behalf Of Jacky Hood
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2012 3:25 PM
To: Open Educational Resources - an online discussion forum
Subject: Re: [OER] Report: Growing the Curriculum: Open Education Resourcesin U.S. Higher Education

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