There is a lot of talk right now about concerns regarding quality and OER. Quality is obviously of foremost concern with regard to educational materials; however, I think that those who are castigating OER on the basis of quality concerns are confusing OER with mass collaboration.
Mass collaboration, of course, is a process by which a task is undertaken by a collective of many (who may be anonymous or not, who may have expertise or not, who may be accurate or not, etc.). This is the development process that has created Wikipedia and some other open resources. I am not going to debate the merits of mass collaboration here (but those who know me might know that I am generally a fan of mass collaboration).
It is mass collaboration that breeds, in many, grave concerns about quality.
However, OERs are not all created by a process of mass collaboration. In fact, many high quality OERs, FreeReading, NROC courses, CK12’s Flexbooks, and most OpenCourseWare resources among them, are not created through mass collaboration, but through a relatively conventional development process that involves a basis in research, writing by qualified experts, and vetting by panels of subject-area authorities.
In short, they are created through a process that does not differ much from that of traditional educational resources, such as printed textbooks.
Appropriately, many state initiatives advancing open textbooks for K-12, such as in Texas, require a quality review and adoption process similar to that of other textbooks. Again, I’ll refrain from debating the merits and fine points of state department of education adoption policies (as much as I’d like to…another time perhaps).
What I would request is this: If you are rejecting the value of open educational resources on the basis of quality, examine the development and quality assurance process involved to see how it measures up. The benefits of OERs to our teachers and students are too great to do otherwise.