After ‘that session’ at Alt-C

Well the cattle have been rounded up, the settlers have lit their home fires, and the preacher and the gadabout are safely departed to bother someone else. Apart from the comedy value of our session on open country (blogged by David Kernohan at, what were the serious messages from the debate at Alt-C?


Amber Thomas, Helen Beetham, David Kernohan and Dave White at ALT-C 2011

David argued that ‘My contention was that OER was a symptom of a wider systemic issue, which takes in publishing, the idea of the public intellectual, online life, online practice and information as a right.’

David White (in the cowboy hat) offered the insight that the open use/reuse of online content is now so deeply embedded that on the demand side there is little need for the term ‘open’ – though arguably the term ‘educational’ might be more distinctive of the kinds of content being developed by the OER programme in the UK.

Amber as the ‘lady sheriff’ described how open standards (the ‘law’) can facilitate relations in open country but also emphasised that institutions have to continue to deliver learning at a time when existing models of higher education funding are under threat. We should beware snakeoil salesmen bearing the promise that open content can fill the void when teachers are dismissed.

Finally, my own slides ( explore some issues emerging from final reports, which no doubt will be expanded on as we dig deeper. It has been exciting to see so many projects not only producing and sharing more resources under the UK OER banner, but reflecting deeply and productively on the wider issues of open education.

Photo: Josie Fraser