Friday, March 23, 2012

OER Makes Financial Sense and Mobile is Just Plain Inevitable

In The Economics of Open (thanks to Stephen Downes for the reference), Paul Stacey does a noteworthy job of exploring the actual business value of open educational resources (meaning why it makes financial sense). Everyone should add this to their reading/reference list as a resource. Here are Stacey's reasons (there is plenty of explanation under each of these):
  1. Open enables rapid market entry, market penetration, and market share.
  2. Open generates revenue through advertising, subscriptions, memberships, and donations.
  3. Open generates revenue through services.
  4. Open generates revenue through direct and indirect sales.
  5. Open generates innovation.
  6. Open makes better use of what we already have.
  7. Open works don’t end, they expand and evolve on and on through others.
Also, if you're looking for some good current information on mobile trends, look no further than this deck, The Future of Mobile. In particular, the presentation does a nice job of showing how people are using mobile and connecting the dots about the impacts of that use.

Of course, one of the big questions when it comes to mobile is whether or not it will be an app-based future or one played out mostly in a browser. Pew conducted a recent survey of Internet experts and has released this report. Lots of interesting reading. Remarks from futurist John Smart provide the report's summation.
“Apps are a great intermediate play, a way to scale up functionality of a primitive Web,” he said, “but over time they get outcompeted for all but the most complex platforms by simpler and more standardized alternatives. What will get complex will be the ‘artificial immune systems’ on local machines. What will get increasingly transparent and standardized will be the limited number of open Web platforms and protocols that all the leading desktop and mobile hardware and their immune systems will agree to use. The rest of the apps and their code will reside in the long tail of vertical and niche uses.”
And by the way, those loud noises you hear are evidently the walls of the higher education monopoly tumbling down. At least that's the view of this article from The New Republic. The structural problem? A gradual loss of ownership over credentials. Personally, I think it's early in the credentials and badges war. It may be less a case of competition (i.e., badges become as important as degrees) than one of irrelevance (we simply become focused on proven competency and don't care at all about formal credentials).

Finally, Audrey Watters has this review of the startup Kickboard. Analytics are indeed important but, as Audrey points out, so is ease of use.

Suggested Reading
The Economics of Open | Paul Stacey
The Master Course: A Key Difference in Educational Delivery Methods
The Future Of Mobile [DECK]

The Future of Apps and Web | Pew Internet & American Life Project
How Tech Will Transform the Traditional Classroom
Kevin Carey: The Higher Education Monopoly Is Crumbling As We Speak | The New Republic
Kickboard: A Data Dashboard for Teachers

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