Money talks and makes the world go around.
Something I have been questioning for some time is the sustainability of OER (open educational resources). It amazes and thrills me to see the effort put into discussing, researching, planning and implementing OER by the learning community. Though strides are being made to accredit this type of learning, its impact is significant and providing learning opportunities for students in programs, curious people, casual learners, and educators. I am more thrilled to see education reach afar allowing .those who don’t have many opportunities for advanced education to engage in new ways – this has been driving my excitement when working with e-learning.
Let’s talk money
A number clients have hired me over the last few years to advise, design and/or build programs and courses to be delivered online or in a blended/hybrid fashion. These have been generous projects that focus on a variety of subjects such as academic courses, field instruction, and organizational and professional training.
I suspect from the commitment my clients have put into these developments they aren’t interested in (or can’t) sharing them freely, but rather offer to their own learners. Though many of the developments are generic enough to share broadly, it isn’t feasible for them to provide them pro bono.
As a contracted instructional designer and developer (ID), I am only one of their costs. They also have an ID team to finalize the product, a management team to oversee the project, administration and learning platforms and software to run the piece, marketing costs to promote the course/program, etc. An online course could cost $20,000 or more to create.
This interesting survey of instructional development costs for e-learning projects shows a range from basic courses, with static text and graphics, to highly interactive pieces. The survey suggests, depending on the project type, that approximately 50 to 265 hours is needed to develop one hour of e-learning. That’s quite the investment!
Considering this, my questions remain: Who pays for OER development? Is it feasible for institutions to widely and freely share their developments? Is this a sustainable or realistic endeavour?
Money matters, and I think if we openly discuss this in a capitalistic way, we may find a solution to continue to share our excellent educational projects. Comments? Solutions?