This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Task Discussion

  • Joe Corneli   May 15, 2011, 4:55 p.m.

    ... at a time when the process of teaching and learning is undergoing vast commercialization and monetization...

    I feel like that intro point itself would be a place for considerable discussion.  My view is that there is not any particular problem with making money from OER or free software.  There may be problems with money per se, but is making money from free cultural artifacts any more than a catalyst in the reaction?  Perhaps someone would like to take up the other side of the debate?

    To me, a situation where money changes hands but free resources are produced is vastly superior to a situation where money may or may not change hands, but the resources remain non-free.  And people do need to eat to live (and money often helps with that).

  • Jennifer Claro   May 15, 2011, 5:21 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Joe Corneli   May 15, 2011, 4:55 p.m.

    Interesting demonetization website, too bad it's (all?) in German.

    A few comments in response to your post.

    One of the main goals of the OER movement is to reduce the digital divide by producing high quality useful materials that are accessible to everyone (with an obvious language problem here, those who would benefit most from these materials may not speak English well enough to read/use them). We must keep OER free and accessible for everyone.

    Taking something free/open and adding something of value to it and then selling it - is this what you are referring to when you ask about making money from free cultural artifacts? For example the various Linux product-and-services companies don't charge for Linux itself but for the support and other services that they do sell. Or do you mean the payment to someone who is producing OER?

    I guess for me it depends on what the money is buying. If it's an added service, I have no problem with that. I pay someone a yearly fee a year to support my uni Moodle site (Moodle is open source and free) and I see this as reasonable. It's the usual "money being paid for a valuable service". For this I get free updates, instant fixes to problems, and a worry-free online space.

    Yes, we live in a capitalist society and people need to eat, even those of us in the OER movement. I think the main point is that OER must remain free in themselves. What were you thinking of, specifically, when you wrote about "making money from free cultural artifacts"?

  • Joe Corneli   May 15, 2011, 7:23 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   May 15, 2011, 5:21 p.m.

    Not all in German (scroll down for articles like »Zeitgeist« and Commons, The Alternative to Capitalism, and look for links to English versions hosted elsewhere in some cases).  And there are some additional resources in English by the same folks around elsewhere as well, e.g. here.  Indeed pulling from these notes (which are by Andreas Exner, and which provide a concise overview of the demonetization idea), in capitalist production, "Profit determines production, ability to pay determines distribution."   When I think about people making money from free resources, in the simplest model, the formula is reversed: "ability to pay determines production, everyone profits from (free) distribution."

    A concrete example would be public art.  If a city decides to pay an artist to produce a mural or statue, everyone who walks by can consume the art for free.

    But we can look at other models of production with different formulas.  For example, one I'm interested in lately is people paying to produce rather than to consume.  This isn't so outlandish: consider the case of a writer who rents an office so as to get some peace and quiet and focus on the work at hand!  Memberships in professional societies function in an abstractly similar fashion: members pay dues, and the professional society provides some added value due to an economy of scale.

    The demonetization programme outlined by Exner centers on the idea that "What is taken from the market must not re-enter it."  It's OK (and often necessary) to get paid in the process, even beneficial depending on how the money is used.  Working and living in a way that increases quality of life as opposed to centralization of wealth and power is the point (as I understand it).

    I think the reason we're having this discussion here is that CSCL can support either mode, so there are ethical questions about how best to design, deploy, and practice CSCL.  (E.g. using computers to support a learning process, without allowing them to become an unnecessary bottleneck.)