Tom's Two Cents

A Big Day for Open Policy

A Big Day for Open Policy

Today was a big day for open policy, with important hearings in the Washington State House and Senate on measures requiring open licensing of courseware developed with state funds. State Representative Reuven Carlyle sponsored the House bill (along with a number of other representatives), and testified at both hearings. The Senate companion bill was sponsored by Senators Tom, Hill, and Frockt.

It is notable that even though there was significant opposition to the bills from the universities, everyone supported using and sharing open resources. The concerns centered around *how* to go about implementing an open policy. Today’s conversations are well worth watching for anyone interested in these arguments or considering similar legislation. A quick summary:

EDIT: Cable Green posted a good FAQ on the bills.


  • Broad support for quality open textbooks in higher ed. (several universities said they are “all in” for open textbooks)
  • Everyone supports the spirit and intention of sharing open educational resources

Concerns raised at hearings:

  • Mandatory nature of policy (and how to track compliance)
  • Impact on faculty’s ability to publish in peer reviewed articles (and further impact on faculty P&T and retention)
  • Copyright vetting and copyright liability burdens on faculty

Tonight I’m thinking of the Ghandi quote David Wiley used almost a year ago: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’ve been through the first three stages. The final stage we are in, the winning part requires a lot of listening, especially to faculty who are interested in OER but have different ideas about implementation.

Regardless of what happens to these two bills, one thing is clear: Open Educational Resources are moving into the mainstream. It’s time to expand educational opportunities for all. No more waiting. It’s time to share.

5 thoughts on “A Big Day for Open Policy

  1. Cable Green

    Well said, Tom. I added Rep. Carlyle’s FAQs for the bill here:

    1. Cable Green

      I was not able to attend the hearing and testify. If I was there, I would have asked the committee members:
      If state and federal gas taxes were used to build a road to the University of Washington, should the contractor who built the road (paid for with public funds) be allowed to (a) own the road and (b) charge the public a toll to drive on it?Or, should the public that paid for the construction and maintenance of the road have the legal right to drive on it?When the public pays for the creation and maintenance of education resources, should the public have access to use the resources it paid for?It’s the same question: Do you think public tax payers should get what they paid for? 

  2. David Lippman

    Interesting.  I am a huge advocate for OER, but I’ll be honest – this bill may be a bit overreaching.  I’m imagining faculty who use images provided by the textbook publisher in their PowerPoints.  The idea of requiring them to go edit those slides and remove all those copy-written images so they can put online a potentially useless version of those slides just seems silly.  Also, the notion of a technophobe teacher being required to compile all their course materials and post them digitally could be a logistic nightmare.  I’m all for open being the default.  I’m not so sure I’m totally behind open being the only option.  I hope the bill gets amended in a way to address some of these very legitimate concerns.

    1. tom4cam

      David, I agree that some of the concerns raised at the hearings are very valid. Rep. Carlyle has generated some important discussion through his proposed legislation. They key question is if an open license should be mandated for all publicly funded educational materials across all public institutions of higher education in Washington. Based on the conversation yesterday, perhaps a more strategic approach involves getting high quality, open textbooks in place first. I think it’s less about IF and more about WHEN we set the default to open.

  3. Pingback: Notes from the web: OER platforms and news « kavubob's miscellanea

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