The case for open content for learning
February 15th, 2006

David Wiley teaches Instructional Technology at Utah State University and directs the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning based at the school. Recent posts on his blog, iterating toward openness, report on testimony given earlier this month to the US Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education by Wiley and other leaders of the open content for learning movement.

Wiley’s summary of his testimony:

In summary, higher education has fallen out of step with business, science, and everyday life. In order to realign itself with changes in society and in its student base higher education must find the will to innovate in the area of openness, and then in connectedness, personalization, participation, and other key areas. Openness is the key to enabling other innovations and catalyzing improvements in the quality, accountability, affordability, and accessibility of higher education. The open infrastructure of the Internet has enabled a huge number of innovations at a speed and scale that could never have occurred if this infrastructure had been closed. I submit that content, faculty support, and peer support are the infrastructure of teaching and learning. To the extent that we open these, we can speed the adoption and scale of innovation in the teaching and learning space.

My recommendation to the Commission is this: please, set a bold goal of universal access to educational opportunity. It is the right thing to do for the citizenry, and the best thing to do for higher education. Openness can play a significant role in enabling this access and many other innovations in teaching and learning.

In a separate post, Wiley makes the case for open textbooks, which he describes as urgent: ‘Frankly, the textbook situation is wreaking havoc on teaching and learning practices on our campuses, with as many as 43 percent of students foregoing the purchase of required textbooks due to financial considerations.’

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