Knox, J. (2013). Five critiques of the Open Educational Resources movement. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-12
Abstract: This paper will review existing literature on Open Educational Resources (OER). It is intended to examine and critique the theories which underpin the promotion of OER in higher education, not provide guidance on their implementation. (1) I will introduce the concepts of positive and negative liberty to suggest an under-theorisation of the term ‘open’. (2) OER literature will be shown to endorse a two-tiered system, in which the institution is both maintained and disaggregated. (3) I will highlight a diminishing of the role of pedagogy within the OER vision and the promotion of a learner-centred model for education. (4) This stance will be aligned with humanistic assumptions of unproblematic self- direction and autonomy. (5) I will discuss the extent to which the OER movement aligns itself with economically orientated models of the university. I offer these critiques as a framework for the OER movement to develop as a theoretically rigorous area of scholarship.
An under-theorisation of the notions of ‘openness’ and ‘freedom’
The implication appears to be that learning is something that is possible with, perhaps even enhanced by, the absence of organisation and structure.
The rejection and privileging of institutional structure
The promotion of OER appears to advocate two different educational models. I will suggest here that these cannot coexist without the creation of a two-tiered education system.
No place for pedagogy
In proposing that institutional involvement can be reduced to the roles of assessment and accreditation, prominent voices within the OER movement appear to reject the pedagogical functions of the university and the place of the teacher.
Humanistic assumptions of autonomy and self-direction
Advocates of self-directed OER learning frequently predict outcomes comparable to those achieved with institutional guidance.
Alignment with the needs of capital
Second-class OER provision is aimed at learners who lack the means to attended established institutions.