David Wiley, “The Access Compromise and the 5th R”

Read the article at http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221


The 5th R (Retain) was introduced seven years after the 4R’s (reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute) were identified. To provide access to literature, libraries were created to give people access to books when ownership was impossible.  Now ownership is very possible, but the cost of textbooks is climbing to a point where institutions are trying to convince students to go back to an access model.

Key Points

  • Open educational resources (OER) is defined as free and unfettered access to the resources as well as whatever copyright permissions are necessary for users to engage in the 4R activities.
  • The attack on personal property – publishers retain control over you and the use of their content.
  • Disappearing ink – institutions try to make books more affordable by decreasing access to them (buyback, rental, subscription, digital rights management) – the institution/publishers are essentially communicating to students that their texts won’t be useful outside of one class, which seems to defeat the purpose of them. The university is sending a mixed message when they do this and at the same time requiring that you take classes based on these books.
  • The 5th R
    • Commercial publishers are not going to fix this, so it falls to open education
    • OER frameworks have not yet focused on ownership, though it is implied in other areas
    • Adding to the framework will bring focus to this issue.

Discussion Questions

  1. Think of hosting issues. If you have access to something now, and it almost feels like ownership because you don’t want a hard copy or even a hard drive copy of most things, but if someone else is hosting it, does that mean you could lose access at any time, without any warning?
  2. Why is the 5R important in the issue of open?
  3. Is there an access compromise now?

Additional Resources

Open Education License Draft http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/355