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In marketing most things, including educational materials, positioning is important. Whether it is the short one sentence tag line or the elevator pitch description, how you describe something affects how people view it. I would even argue that coming to consensus on positioning within an organization affects the product or service itself. It becomes the target or the “mission,” if you will.

I’ve been thinking about how to position specific OER curriculum products, especially in the K-12 space.

If you ask most educators if they know what “open licensed” or “OER” or “Creative Commons” is, they will say yes. (This general awareness is fairly new and a triumph for the movement I should note.) But if you ask them more probing questions or more importantly, look at their actual use of content, their knowledge is not evident. Instead, most treat all free and digital materials pretty much the same.

So then the question is how to convey what open really means or what its benefits are. The 5 R’s are useful, but it is a big lift to explain this, and still, I would argue, these aren’t strongly perceived as benefits to many beyond the most innovative teachers. And in fact, to many in the leadership role, they may even be detriments. (That’s another post, I suppose.)

So there is a choice — do you try to educate and convince potential users of the benefits or do you take another path to positioning? Classical marketing thinking would suggest the latter, and I think I agree.

There are many benefits to open educational materials beyond their license — depending on the materials in question, these could include high quality or effectiveness, flexibility (ability to be personalized), ability to empower teachers and learners, cross-platform adaptability (including both print and digital), and of course, being free.

Next post, the pros and cons of positioning OER as “free.”

This is a part of a series of posts on the positioning of K-12 OER core curriculum in the market.

Positioning “open” – OER
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