Below is a copy of a blog post that I made on another blog  June 15, 2016. Here’s a link to that blog

For-Profit Involvement in OER – Part 4

I’m genuinely glad that Lumen is doing what they’re doing, and I applaud the announcement this past Monday of the Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources. But, I also still have significant reservations about the particular model that’s being used to provide access to the OER. And, I don’t think discussing the model of delivery and the specific nature of how and to where the money flows is merely ‘academic,’ as Dr. Wiley described it in his comment on my previous post, For-Profit Involvement in OER – Part 3. It may be that the Lumen model is exactly what’s needed at this stage in the development of OER, but I’m concerned that without a clearer understanding of the details (like documentation other than what’s on Git hub and a support network other than Lumen staff), we might be missing greater opportunity. Bluntly, I don’t want the purposes of a for-profit company spoiling the possibilities.


The really great thing about Lumen’s approach is that it is providing significant immediate savings to students and thereby enhancing the sustainability of the institutions where they’re studying. (Go ahead and quote me.) The for-profit textbook publishers have created a worldwide orchard with a whole lot of low hanging fruit.

Here’s the distinctions I want to make:

  1.  Putting the OER in a separate platform and connecting to the LMS via LTI is only really useful if you want more money going to those that run the separate platform instead of keeping the money for running the LMS. I’m pretty sure that Lumen is already working with Instructure and other LMS purveyors to blur that line even more, which will come with the argument that that is the way of most opportunity which is Dr. Wiley’s proclaimed rationale for Lumen being a for-profit entity.

  1. The supporting functions that are necessary for the continued flourishing of OER can be provided by a for-profit entity, but the best value to community colleges, students and faculty will be when they are provided on a fee for service basis. The structure of the entity providing the supporting functions might be for-profit corporate, for-profit individuals,  non-profit corporate, consortia of governmental orgs, or combinations of the above. The particular mix of combinations matters, too.  The ultimate factoring to per student does not necessarily correlate to quantities. Sometimes it will be cheaper per student for a class of twenty-five students at a four year institution and sometimes it will be cheaper per student for all of the Algebra 1 students in the statewide CC system. As institutions including administration, IT support, faculty, libraries, student services, and students all come to understand all of the moving parts of OER, the institutions will better be able to determine which payment method for OER support is best for their particular circumstances.

As Dr. Wiley has pointed out, there is a need for all types of support. Different recipes produce different cookies. For now, cheers to Lumen and the Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources.

The fact text messaging actually costs carriers nothing  combined with the fact that free wireless internet service is also available to connect students in Minneapolis with the servers at Minneapolis Public Schools means that students and teachers in Minneapolis should be able to use Twitter and Moodle in their “classrooms”  which could be anyplace in the city for free.  The only cost then becomes the cost of the devices and the cost of training teachers and students how to use these tools.  The cost of devices is not much more, if any, than the cost of textbooks.

Due to the nature of the system used by carriers to send text messages between phones, texting does not cost the carriers any money at all.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/business/28digi.html?_r=3&partner=rss&emc=rss   This is because SMS messages are designed to fit inside the bandwidth alloted to the “control channel”, which is used to establish communication between the mobile phone and the cellular tower. This channel is continuously active, so the messages are piggybacking on the control signal, for free.

It is essentially only our ability to think through the logistics of using the current technology that is keeping us from doing what is being done in colleges like the UT Dallas and will be done in UK elementary schools according to the recently announced plans.

I did a search on twitter in the classroom thinking I would get to the Youtube video of Monica Rankin and instead I found out that we’re already using Twitter in the classroom in Minneapolis.

The path seems to be getting shorter by the hour !  Now, we just need to get everybody on board.

With a two year contract, of course. see Stribune article from 4/18/09


This is a big deal because it means that there will likely be a more significant source for internet devices.  If the trend keeps up people and businesses will want a place to unload their ‘old’ netbooks.  Sabier will be there to provide the service of unloading them so that people can buy a new device guilt free.

The new Civic Garden of Wireless Minneapolis allows students and their families to access Minneapolis Public Schools websites including our Classroom Moodle . That means the only thing keeping a student from participating in the online learning environment at home is a device to access the Civic Garden. A $50 used desktop computer or a $150 used laptop would be fine for most of the stuff kids need to do today. As netbooks approach the $50 price, eventually without a contract for the older models, the availability of devices should increase.

The AT&T offering confirms what Wired has said in their piece in February, The Netbook Effect .  It’s pretty clear that internet devices will become increasingly affordable.  That brings me to the thought that maybe the resource that Sabier needs to focus on is teacher training rather providing devices for students.   Students might be able to get the devices on their own, but teachers are going to need lots of help getting to the point where they feel comfortable using netbooks in class.  Perhaps we can do a little of both.