I am surprised that the open educational resources (OER) movement has taken so long to take hold. Having the involvement of the students and other teachers in the course’s materials would give continual improvements. Students have the ability to directly respond to the materials at any moment, not just at the end of the semester in a course evaluation. This openness to critical feedback keeps the curriculum alive and responsive to the students, and gives more ideas to the teacher on what is working for students and what is not. Teachers benefit, students benefit, and the public benefits. How did OER not become the norm? Instead education and knowledge is often regarded like a state secret, only shared on a “need to know” basis. Disagree? Then why would a large-scale learning management systems (LMS) like Canvas show only 3 classes when searching for “CS”? There must be close to a thousand of those classes hosted by Canvas. Those classes can never be used by anyone else now, the class is considered ‘expired’, like a food. An instructor could restart the class for next semester, but they always retain all visibility, control, and restrictions on the course.
Perhaps educational resources should work towards the same progressive structure as academic publishing. Academic works can have a lineage of citations that can be clearly followed to find the origins, modifications, and improvements of the idea. Education materials could be similarly referenced on and expanded upon, and high quality content would become popularized in this same manner. There is one central issue this could cause though. Popularity leads to the homogenization of classes, tempting teachers to be less individualistic, creative, and adaptive in their classes. Students who do not fall in the majority target audience also would be disadvantaged in these classes unless the curriculum is carefully structured. If educational materials merely adopt the academic publishing system, they would inherit the same issues there as well: restrictive access and price gouging. This is why the current academic publishing model is not a good destination for educational resources to move towards. The open access model does not have these concerns and would promote reusing and remixing of the course content. This is how to bring education to the masses, not through having “gold subscription member” tiers.
Side note: I wonder how did universities shed the responsibility of textbook costs onto the students? College students must be able to take care of textbooks better than young kids. But every high school and middle school I’ve heard of pays for their students’ textbooks. Perhaps this is a consequence of the predatory professors who require the most expensive and newest version of their own textbook for their classes. Universities may have refused to fund this practice, but could not prevent it, so it offloaded the expense down to the students.