Bremen OER Barcamp hammers out new business model

Delegates from the publishing industry talked to me of publishers in Poland suffering serious losses following large scale public OER funding. One even suggested a political agenda to create a single public monopoly in learning resources. This was vigorously denied by the OER champions who say they are calling for a mixed economy where all content producers flourish and learners are the winners.

Talks over coffee confirm a genuine willingness to balance the needs of content producers to earn a living with a reasonable desire to gain maximum value to learners from public investment. Talking to Pamela from Berlin, she described very clearly around a example of some nationally produced materials that the devil most certainly does reside in the detail!

Julia Bergmann summarised her view by saying that ‘German copyright rules are now so complicated that they are not usable. They need to be simplified and made fit for purpose for a digital age. The situation is always unclear and you don’t know where to go for the answers.’

Sent from my iPad

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2 Responses to “Bremen OER Barcamp hammers out new business model”

  1. Terry Loane Says:

    It’s interesting, Alastair, that you have been involved in further discussions about Open Educational Resources/Practice so soon after the ALT-C conference at which this was quite a major issue.

    I share the concern that we could end up with a situation in which educational resources in any particular curriculum area are supplied by a monopoly. I think this would be bad for learning. But this might not necessarily be a public sector/OER monopoly. It could be that a large publishing house would be able to acquire a near-monopoly in a particular area, particularly if it were to team up with an awarding body (as Pearson has done with Edexcel). There has been talk within the Westminster government of abolishing competing awarding bodies for GCSE exams and putting each subject out to tender, with the successful contractor ‘delivering’ all exams in a particular subject. This could well lead to the worst possible sort of monopoly – a public-private partnership for resources as well as for exams.

    I don’t believe the crisis in educational publishing is solely the result of OERs. The Web has been a huge challenge for all book publishers and it will be some time (perhaps a long time) before the situation settles down and becomes stable again.

    It’s interesting that German copyright law is so complicated. I am sure that if Piratenpartei Deutschland (the German Pirate Party) were elected, they would simplify it!

  2. dontgetlost Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Terry. I think you are right that changes in the educational publishing market are complex. The model of a single exam board and single supplier of course materials does hold out the prospect of a very dull monolithic learning offer, I agree. We really must ensure that teachers feel free to seek a broad range of materials and to encourage their learners too to explore critically the wealth of material now available freely.

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