Newsweek ran an article this week about online courses.  This article provided some publicity for the OER movement…except that the article really wasn’t about OER.

The article said, in part, “In addition to YouTube EDU, Web sites like iTunes U, TED, and Academic Earth allow millions of people to download lectures by some of the world’s top experts—for free. Known as open educational resources—or OER—the movement is turning education into a form of mass entertainment.” Unfortunately, only one of those sites listed, TED, is published under an open license (and with TED’s no-derivatives license, some would refute that).

While the article does talk about MIT’s OpenCourseWare and a couple other open projects, it is really about free online courses. Nowhere does the article define OER or talk about what open is and how open is different from free and digital.

This is sloppy journalism, which seems to abound in our sound-bite-driven, superficial media, but it is also indicative of a bigger problem.

The OER movement needs a more cohesive messaging approach. The benefits and needs for OER and what it can bring to education are overwhelming; we need people to understand that.

Online and free ≠ open
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