"Laurillard is careful to separate education from access to resources, but she presents the relationship between the OER movement and web technology as largely unproblematic. I want to argue that the relationship is more layered and more complex, and that openness is an affordance of an assemblage and related to broad social conditions, national politics, economics and law."
Openness, technologies, business models and austerity. Learning, Media and Technology 15 Jun 2015 doi: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1051307
Open education emerged when the state had an active role in shaping and financing post-secondary education. In the twenty-first century, two pressures influence the way openness is conceived. The first is the compounding of neo-liberal economics with austerity following the financial crash of 2008. The second is the consolidation of networked and digital technologies at an institutional and infrastructural level, illustrated by massive open online courses (MOOCs). This article examines the place of open education in this emerging climate of economic constraint and technological possibilities. The article argues that openness is not a property or feature of a technology but that such properties can result in affordances. This understanding informs a review of openness in The Open University (UK), in relation to MOOCs and in the open educational resources movement. A relational view of affordance suggests that openness depends in significant ways on the character of broad social processes and that if they change then the affordances of technologies for openness change with them. The current marketisation of higher education, the reduction in public finances and continuing economic uncertainty lead to contradictory and conflicting pressures. Arguing in favour of education as a public good, the article criticises calls for a ‘business model’.