Landing : Athabascau University

Faculty resistance to OER

I participated on a panel at ELearning Africa as part of which, I came up with several reasons why universities and faculty may be resistant to releasing Open Educational Resources (OER). Fears of the faculty are varied, and among those expressed to me over the years include concerns over students studying independently using OER without teacher input and the possibility of students colluding together and cheating. The fear of competitors profiting from their material is also high on the list. In addition, commonly, courses contain a mixture of commercial and homemade materials and it is hard to extricate the OER elements from that which is owned by publishers. There may in some cases even be illegal content.  A professor might also be unsure of his/her content quality and not wish to expose it to scrutiny by opening it up. The perception of poor quality is often enough to convince some to keep their content closed. And, some faculty believe they can sell their course content to textbook publishers, although in the vast majority of cases this remains an idle dream. Finally I noted that in a few cases, there is an element of unethical behaviour or even corruption, where the faculty have a special financial interest in supporting specific commercial content.

At Athabasca University, the University owns the course content and so is in a privileged position for opening up its content. If we address these fears and concerns we will be better able to move forward as a full open university.


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