How does OpenLearn challenge conventional assumptions about paying for higher education modules?
Clearly OER challenges the notion that post-compulsory education should be purchased from the supplier, it also challenges the assumption that learning is a commodity that can be bought and sold (Sfard’s Acquisition metaphor, or Claxton’s Transmission metaphor (Claxton, 1995 in McAndrew, 2010) by enabling opportunities to collaborate and create learning.
The OUs strategy for this type of model reflects many commercial sites on the internet whereby the basic ‘product’ is free but to obtain additional benefits the consumer must pay. The consumer is motivated to move beyond the ‘free’ opportunities, by the quality of the product, the enjoyment/satisfaction of the product, its importance and possibility of accreditation. McAndrew (2010) suggests that in addition the OU benefits from Open Learn by
- taking its brand to learners who might not subscribe to a paid learning site
- attracting casual learners who may not see their needs being met by traditional means
- providing unique opportunities for university research
- having the opportunity to forge partnerships with external providers and partners.
It could be argued that there is a noticeable convergence between commercial sites and OER sites. Twitter, FB, Youtube and LinkedIn, do not purport to include learning as a core activity although they are evolving with definite learning dimensions. In turn, the OER sites might contemplate adopting income streams such as advertising thus mimicking those aforementioned online behemoths!