David Wiley, “Open Content”

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Inspired by open source and free software, “open content” seeks to reasonably apply the principles of openness to non-software creative works including writing, images, sounds, and videos. David Wiley, who coined the term in 1998, is particularly interested in how open content can reduce the cost and increase the quality of education.

At its core “open content” describes a copyrightable work that is licensed in a way that “provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities” which are retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.

Key Points


Legal requirements and restrictions can make content less open, as can poor technical choices.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does copyright with open source interplay with copyleft (Stallman/GNU)?
  2. What are the ramifications of open content educational materials?
  3. What is the future of education with open content?
  4. Is open content less expensive?
  5. Is open content free of cost?  If so, why? If not, why not?
  6. Are textbooks really going away?  Will they become irrelevant? Useable?
  7. Do we really need to keep the textbooks that we have?
  8. What do we do with the older versions of the textbooks?

Additional Resources

Future of OER. (2014). Iterating toward openness. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/-tmIX

Open Content. (2014). Iterating toward openness. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/blog/  

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Access it online or download it at https://openedreader.org/openedreader/open-content.