OER and for-profits: Are we selling out?

Why it may be critical to partner with the for-profit world to facilitate innovations.

profit-OER-learningCan an advocate for open educational resources (OER) and student equity justify partnering for for-profits?

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has defined OER as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Hewlett and other philanthropic foundations have spent millions of dollars supporting the creation of nonprofit initiatives dedicated to providing OER to the world.

However, while most people understand the “free” part of the definition,they don’t necessarily understand what it means to “repurpose” the materials. The repurposing may allow individuals, non-profits and for-profits to use those original materials and remix them, transform them, and even build them into new products.

So, when nonprofits partner up with for-profit corporations, are they “selling out”?

(Next page: Justifying an OER advocate’s collaboration with for-profits)