The internet is a copy machine .... Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free.Education can't be copied, because education is a service, not a product. The sooner we get it into our heads we are selling a service not a product, and that we're never going to sell someone two kilos of science (or law, or geography ...), the sooner we'll start to understand this education business.
How does one make money selling free copies?
When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
And that's why Laura Dewis' defence of OpenLearn is flawed.
While OpenLearn units must be structured learning experiences in their own right, including learning outcomes, we recognised from the beginning they couldn’t compare to the supported open learning experience our registered students enjoy. But again, they weren’t meant to be.At present, OpenLearn isn't worth over five million quid (particularly not since the recycled materials it's based on have already been paid for). Will it ever be?
Update: It's worth adding to this the report that Seb Schmoller points at, Analyses of European Megaproviders of E-learning, which gives seven main reason why mega-initiatives fail:
- Realize that hard-nosed market research is essential for the success of any e-learning initiative;
- Plan carefully for and control carefully the revenue and expenses. Seeding funding dries up quickly;
- Choice of courses and their accreditation is crucial;
- Define precisely the relationships of your initiative to existing providers and define precisely the institutional model you will adopt;
- Plan carefully to manage both educational and business activities;
- Avoid top-down political and boardroom initiatives;
- Avoid consortia of institutions that compete with each other and the consortium.