The OCWC’s webinar with Reuven Carlyle, State Representative to the Washington State Legislature, took place on the 18th. Reuven gave made a great presentation on OER and policy, followed by some questions from participants from not only in the U.S., but from in Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, and Korea. You can see the video of the webinar here.
Reuven’s actions for OER work has been focused on systematically strategy building strategy to serve the core value proposition of none other than “saving students money.”. The State of Washington passed a legislation to make publicly funded material open, and Reuven has worked to convert 82 common courses within the community & technical college system to convert that into open content. This effort has involved partnership with faculty who see significant value in their contributions.
His work with the legislature was built upon the foundation laid by the state as the technology plan, which established a consensus for moving away from the state’s former proprietary approach. The central value driver is that saving students’ save money, and improving the quality of their learning sees improvement. This idea really is— a winning proposition for faculty, students, policy makers and tax payers. It’s a very simple idea, Reuven says: if the public is paying for content, it should be made readily available.
This is not just a strategy; it’s a shift in paradigm. When it comes to policy issues, you have to show how to capture the value for the tax money. Open access to publically-funded content is a basic right. Open has to be the standard. We have to let the legislature know that the transformative power of OER is the philosophy of the internet. At the same time, policy issues are about the money, and so we have to make a business case. We have to let the policy makers see that OER gives everyone better quality with less cost. And, through collaborative efforts, we have to cultivate champions among legislators and public policy makers.
One thing Reuven kept emphasizing was that it was crucial to engage students in this- not as a mere protest projects, but as something that brings out activism in them. Students and the parents who pay their tuition have a vested interest in OER, and they should let their policy makers know about it. They should be a part of the public policy dialogue. Also, Reuven sees how urgent it is that we educate our educators about OER. He was shocked by how many of the teachers that he spoke to had no idea what OER was.
Reuven’s talk was inspirational, and it left us with quite an impressive list of to- do’s. As Reuven said, it can be frustrating at times when you realize that the awareness is so low. At the same time, it is good to know that we know what we should be doing:
• First of all, we need a one page proposal for legislators and educators regarding value proposition of OCW and OER. We need to collaborate on increasing stakeholders’ awareness of open contents.
•Secondly, we have to work towards creating and cultivating champions in each region. In order to do that, each of us would have to continue to speak to the legislators, legislator’s’ association, and other relevant parties. Reuven suggested a goal of identifying five champions in each state or country.
This post will be uploaded on the Consortium Communities site under OER and Policy, so please leave a note if you are interested in continuing the discussion. As Reuven said at the end of his presentation,
together we can together make a compelling movement to build excitement over OER.