Monday, March 22, 2010

There is a symbiotic relationship between use and availability, a cycle than tends up or down depending upon the inputs to both of those variables.

In higher education, we have long seen use by faculty who find educational technologies inherently interesting and are not hampered by worries about maintaing artificial scarcity of knowledge (the DeBeers model). That has spurred some increases in availability of open learning resources.

However, the problem is that these faculty are a small proportion of the cadre of instruction in higher education. What keeps the majority from getting more involved? It's a failure of leadership in higher education that is at the root of this stagnation. There are two things that HE administrators and faculty (via shared governance) should be doing that most of them are not:

1) Making sure that reaching out is not only permitted but rewarded. Here, the focus is on P&T (promotion and tenure) but there are other factors such as an institutional mindset that its survival is somehow linked to maintaining a false sense of scarcity. Credentialing is a part of this.

2) Making sure that reaching out is possible. Here, we are talking about helping faculty garner the skills necessary to developing and publishing content in an open and unfettered fashion, collaborating and cooperating with others on content projects that are beyond the abilities of solitary work.

Whether or when that will happen is well beyond my ken but I do believe that these steps are essential prerequisites.

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