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Community garden

Started by Rory McGreal November 3, 2011 - 9:56am Replies (5)


I really enjoyed the videos and I understand that "sustainability" is essential for OER, but the bigger issue as far as I can see is that the present educational & ed publishing systems are NOT sustainable. The traditional universities bring up the sustainability issue for OER, the same way as they bring up the quality issue for distance education. They look at others but don't apply the same criteria to judge themselves. In fact OER are vastly less expensive than the traditional text book system and public sector DE has ALWAYS placed more emphasis on quality than the traditional universities. So, we can build a new sustainable ecology using OER in online learning and once again the desert of traditional education can bloom! (Ok, a bit hyper, but I hope the message is clear.)


  • Eric von Stackelberg February 16, 2013 - 1:12pm

    Being less expensive than the current approach does not answer how OER's are sustainable. If a university developing and using OER's created a business model canvas and applied it to OER development program including identifying what generates the revenue streams. Then there would be a simple hypothesis on how OER's are sustainable. Between choices of potentially unsustainable (OER's) and really unsustainable there is insufficient motivation to change. For myself sustainable versus really unsustainable is good motivation to change.

    While I do not have the data necessary to build this myself I would suggest that the recombination of components actually form the basis for creating additional intellectual capital.So not only to you have cost reductions but you have potential new value creation. I still maintain that relationship and service rather than artifically constrained rival products (copyrighted courses) should be the revenue generation model for open universities.

    So while it should be expected that current for-profit publishing will fight against this (as demonstrated by the Obama bookmark) a simple picture of how OER's can be made sustainable can demonstrate why either as a general good or a disruption OER's should be supported by funding and contributing bodies.

  • Michael Cenkner February 19, 2013 - 10:58am

    I agree and like your notion of testing what can be sustainable (as gardeners do) and you are right on with "relationship and service rather than artifically constrained rival products (copyrighted courses) should be the revenue generation model for open universities." although that is really, really a new way of looking at intellectual capital" although a normal way of doing things for gardeners who share resources and labour all the time.

    BTW, I have developed an open-access course which has a "simple hypothesis on how [it could be] sustainable," you can check out here:, guest password 'beauty'


  • Eric von Stackelberg February 19, 2013 - 9:14pm

    Not sure I understand what piece is a " way of looking at intellectual capital".

    The premise of knowledge as non-rival is based on my understanding of Benkler  , and that prior to a knowledge economy most societies are more familiar with rival products (eg. an apple is a finite product) so a natural way of dealing with this is to come up with a way (Intellectual Property Protections - eg. copyright, patents, trade secrets) to force a non-rival product into the more familiar rival product mode.

    Or would we be talking about what is really new is the movement away from the "sole inventor" premise which I think was also discussed in a newer Katz paper?

    So far only taken a quick peek at the open-access course but looking forward to it. My belief is we do not sufficiently consider "stacking" in many cases and are less efficient as a result.


  • Michael Cenkner February 22, 2013 - 9:30am

    It is the concept of capital, which is potential energy, as opposed to measuring/working with the flow of energy through the system. In gardening, you can only use so much soil and so many hoes.

    I'm also inclined to think of it in terms of tribal economy. As you know McLuhan presages the interconnectedness and simultaneity of some aspects (i.e. digital aspects) of our situation. People (e.g. Reality Sandwich) are extending this into the economic sphere, presenting a "sacred commerce" model which only makes any sense at a tribal scale.  So those two perspectives that are maybe a "new way of looking at IP," at least in online courses I am aware of.

    I don't have answers but the modular design and minimal/universal content approach make my course intended for community updating, and thus community investments into the Common, make it designed for open access. 

    Now I am rethinking the position I took in licensing the content "cc-by-nc," meaning attribution and non-commercial. Maybe in the long run it would be more impactful to go non-commercial (and then eligible for WikiMedia). Your thoughts?

  • Eric von Stackelberg February 22, 2013 - 11:02am

    Okay, I think I understand. I have drawn from work on a number of disciplines so sometimes my perspective on "new" and "different" is skewed.(e.g. is something new if some other discipline or culture has already been doing it?)

    I prefer thinking about capital as discrete objects rather than energy because I find it easier to conceive of a "object" with attributes as opposed to energy. It helps me visualize networks and I prefer energy as meaning travelling and accumulating within the network.

    I understand capital as "potential" whether it be intellectual capital or fiscal capital it is all about what you can do with that potential. I understand "property" as a culture based construct to attach individual or group ownership to some "potential". In North America we seem to equate capital and property but I think that is a bias that interferes with understanding. For instance when we look at "social capital" which is about the relationships and connectivity we are talking about the potential resulting from social interactions as opposed to who has rights to or the ownership of those connections.

    I am not familiar with "tribal economy" or "sacred commerce" (can you suggest links in alignment with your usage) but I suspect they lean towards social capital applied in a network organizational form (some of Powell's publications are linked the Anethum Collaboration group - feel free to engage there also)which go beyond simple market transactions which I am leaning towards as the way of the future in a knowledge economy.

    As far as my thoughts on licensing go if you want to create connections then I would think the attribution aspect would be important and the commercial/non-commercial aspect is less important UNLESS specific platforms that you want to use as distribution channels require certain licensing constraints.