OER: Shared or Exchanged?

There’s an information page on OER at PBworks. I wasn’t sure about this, though:

It could be argued that sharing implies an open model (sharing with all) and exchange a community based model which relies on mutual benefits within a specific community.

The author (Lou McGill) stops short of saying that this is her own position, but this seems a bit woolly to me.  There’s nothing about the idea of sharing that means one has to share freely; you and I might decide to share what we have without necessarily including someone else.  And the distinction doesn’t seem right in the first place: all sharing (which presumably takes place within communities) is a form of exchange as long as we assume that sharing somehow deprives the giver of something.  I’m not sure this is an assumption we need make.

Perhaps the idea is that one model is prudential while the other is based on a spirit of generosity.  I’d prefer to use the analogy of communication to demonstrate the idea of sharing.  We all partake it language, learning it from each other and teaching it in return.  But it wouldn’t be right to think of it as a kind of exchange; it’s more like the framework that allows something like exchange to be possible.

For education to be truly open, perhaps we have to disabuse ourselves of the idea that anyone really owns these things in the first place.

In any case, I really liked the way that this chart uses the production and consumption of milk to explain how OER materials are re-used, recycled and re-mixed.  Be careful who you call a cow, though.  Via Good Intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials (table edited).

OER/Milk Flowchart

Role OERs Milk
Primary producer/Creator Teacher/Author Cow
Primary consumer Enrolled student Calf
Secondary producer/repurposer Learning technologist/Course leader Farmer
Primary supplier Learning technologist Milk bottlers
Secondary supplier Deposited in institutional repository or open deposit Shop
Secondary consumer Teacher within or outside institution Human family
Sharers and re-users Enroled students of that teacher Human family and pets
Exchange and repurposing Other teachers within or outside home institution Cocoa powder, sugar and milk make chocolate
repository Deposited in different open repositories Chocolate in shop fridge
re-users/sharers Global learners Chocolate eaten
further re-purposing Global teachers Chocolate added to cake mixture

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