WritingCommons.Org and Community-Based OER Models

Kicking the OERs old school.

I read a great posting at Writing Commons this morning entitled “Flat World Knowledge, Textbook Affordability, and a Call for More Collaborative Efforts” that really echoes my thinking on this. Since Flat World Knowledge is no longer open (as defined by Hewlett and many other definitions of OER), it makes the community efforts around open textbooks all the more important. I have long been a proponent of community developed, vetted, and maintained OERs and open textbooks. Please note that I did not say “I am against business.” I am for efforts that are truly open to make open textbooks and other OERs freely available to students. This is not some radical notion – it is a return to the original intent of textbooks which is to support student learning rather than to support “sustainable business models.” If someone figures out how to do both, more power to them. In the meantime, we need to support Writing Commons, an online composition textbook.

“We at Writing Commons have been working to provide quality open-access articles about writing and research and will continue to do so. While our materials are not yet comprehensive, we are adding new peer-reviewed material every month. We encourage instructors to email us about any gaps in our coverage (suggestions may be sent to jennifer@writingcommons.org), and we can work suggestions into future calls for papers. And while we have not yet made our open textbook customizable, as had Flat World Knowledge, our site does enable instructors looking to incorporate WC articles into their lesson plans to select and assign material as needed. (See http://writingcommons.org///site-map-1 for a table of contents.) Currently, WC editors are developing an instructional video that will guide users through the site; we hope that this video will help teachers efficiently select the material most relevant to their courses.”

These kinds of efforts need our support. I used to teach English and I have a lot of teaching materials and workbooks that I have written that I am planning on contributing time and materials to this community. Please pass this on to others you many know who can contribute materials or time for reviewing materials. OERs from an open community of instructors, administrators, instructional designers is going to be the truly sustainable model.  

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