Regrettably, it feels like we are no closer to critical mass and sustainability on the OER front than we were this time last year.
I was pretty cranky in August 2009 during the OpenEd 2009 conference that was held here in Vancouver for which my organization was a co-sponsor. My blog posts during the conference were critical of the primary OER advocates as marketers to teachers and faculty. My criticism was that they were miscast in that role. While they had done a masterful job of illuminating the concept, filling the blogosphere with good ideas, and marketing the promise to foundations that fund innovation, my belief was that it would take actual teachers, instructors and students who could demonstrate success in an OER context to bring consolidation and sustainability to the goals of the open movement. Further, it seemed that little real effort was occurring on the inclusion or promotion of teachers and teaching, and that OpenEd conferences continued to be conversations within an insular community of theorists and advocates – not the stuff of implementation, nor a demonstration of broad impact.
I hope that in 2010-2011 we will see a rise in the generosity of spirit that is promoted in the OER community, through a new focus on the nurturing of successors with implementation, consolidation and sustainability skills. If the best way forward is to give away knowledge for free, then maybe this is a good time to demonstrate a similar approach to marketing an open educational resource future, by identifying and promoting new advocates who are closer to the problem for which OERs are the solution.