QUESTIONS: How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? How can you build a sustainable business model around giving away credentialed degrees? Should governments fund open education? (Do they already?)
Before building a sustainable business model, it is imperative to know the goal of giving away educational materials. We need to consider the potential users because the participation will be a factor which influences the sustainability of OER websites. Hence, we need to have to assess the needs of participants at the outset. There are some models proposed by Downes and Dholakai. I might support a volunteer-support model by which everyone is allowed to modify the contents. The commercial use of the contents is also allowed. Funding is important for the basic operation of OER websites. Users who use contents for commercial use will need to contribute at least 5 % of what they have earned from those contents. Cooperation with corporations is also necessary. Any corporation can contribute some money to OER websites based on the reasons of the access of free education materials to a vast amount of users. Probably a donation model of MSN can be adopted for the sustain OER websites. MSN has implemented a program that some companies will donate money to some charitable organizations based on the amount of the conversations that you have with others. I think maybe corporations can also donate money based on the number of courses provided, the number of participants, etc. As what is indicated in the articles, most people who contribute their time to the editing or maintenance of OER have find some value that is beyond money. And a decentralization management method which allows users to do whatever they like to the OER to fit their needs is also an important way to sustain the running of OER.
As for giving away credential degrees, I may not very sure about this because it may involve the processes or original system acceptable by the ministry of education of the countries. I think there is one way that we might take to try to give degrees through self learning from OER. Learners who want to get degree can pay less if they learn though OER websites by themselves. Their money will be just used to sustain the basic running for the management of the virtual school. The school will provides syllabus for each class, and related contents links for learners to learn by themselves. A couple of evaluation processes will be utilized, which include tests, projects that the learners finish, etc. For instance, the virtual university might provide online multiple choices for each section. If learners can get 70% right on average for all the session, then they can pass the class. Different evaluation methods can be used based on the nature of subjects. Besides, I think that at the beginning the way of providing credential degree can be implemented in some universities because universities can utilize their exiting teachers or resources to help those self learners. Teachers can get payment when they take charge of the provision of course direction, related course links, the editing of test questions, etc. It is kind of like distance education. The difference is that students will be just provides some guidelines which let them know what concepts they should learn for passing the course, and some recommended OER websites for them to learn. The passing of courses will all depend on the evaluation methods which are designed for different subjects.
I think government should fund for the open education to enhance the learning opportunities for everyone no mater what those learners are students or not. The idea of life-long learning emphasizes that people should learn through their whole life, and it is never late to learn. The provision of OER allows people more flexibility to manage their learning pace. The abundance of OER is praised. The trend of OER can not be neglected for the next generation since we are in era of the explosion of information. There are new ideas created every moment. Learning is ongoing when people present their knowledge or create their ideas based on previous knowledge provided by someone. The collaboration of creating any learning education resources is awesome. Hence, the government should provide some funding for those OER-related projects to carry out the objective of learning at every age, everywhere.