Open Educational Resources International Symposium: Closing Keynote

UKOER10 closed with a keynote from Brian Lamb of the University of British Columbia that was as much a challenge to the audience as it was entertaining. Lamb had come to praise the power of open standards, including OER, and to urge the audience to stand up against the might of proprietary standards and closed platforms, which have once again started to affect the web. His message? ‘It is criminally irresponsible to hoard information.’

Lamb’s argument was that when so many experts have failed to stop financial crashes and other disasters, only transparency and collaboration can bring together the knowledge we may already have, so it can be used to improve society. One of the keys to that is OER, as are open web standards, such as wikis and RSS feeds, as well as open source projects such as WordPress. To support his argument, Lamb provided numerous examples of how collaborative technologies have created knowledge and expanded OER.

Unfortunately, he said, open web standards are losing traction in certain areas such as the mobile space. Together with the ‘increasing criminalisation around IPR’ and the erosion of the net neutrality, this trend could inhibit the power of the internet.

So as a message to take away with them when they left, he challenged the audience to become advocates of open standards, particularly OER.

‘If we really believe the internet is transforming how we acquire and disseminate knowledge – and that it may even been affecting the way the brain is wired – don’t we in higher education who have a traditional mandate as guardians of knowledge need to lead this?’

Following a symposium that had showed the power of OER, the way it can be implemented and used in practice, and its many benefits, we can only hope that many of the audience will go on to do just that.