Open access to online content. A somewhat confusing sentence, so think of it this way: open access is like an unlocked door, you don’t need a key to open. Still a bit puzzled? Don’t worry I was at first too, check out Wiley’s short cartoon that helps give a general overview of what open access means.
For a content producer specifically it is debatable whether the rewards are great enough to make their content freely available online.
On the one hand they could be playing key role in the reinvention of what a classroom experience is (Forbes, 2013). Suggesting that in making content available they are facilitating social change, and perhaps even levelling the equality of access institutions can provide their students with. Therefore changing the impact a school’s funding has on the level of education an individual is afforded with. Something Wiley suggests is possible for the “first time in human history” (Wiley et al., 2012). The motivations for open access are vast; increasing audience, reuse, access, experimentation, reputation, revenue, participation etc. (The Ed Techie, 2013). Illustrating just how wide and all encompassing the benefits of making content available can be.
On the other hand however there is also the suggestion that content producers themselves could be perhaps exploited by larger media companies who facilitate the access. They are at times seen as “optimised content offers” (Lepitak, 2013), something which can vary from content to content, as well as the form in which it is made available. Suggesting that although the producer created the content, they may not directly benefit from this access notion as greatly as the media companies do (Brown, 2012). The infographic below helps to illustrate the differences in the costs of various methods of distribution (Wiley et al., 2012). Whilst the significantly lower cost for retrieving an electronic copy of book could be of great benefit for those attempting to access such content, it is also clear that this could disadvantage content producers relying on an income from their published content.
Overall it is possible to see both sides of the debate; do you publish something in the hope that one day it may contribute to social change? Or do you cut your losses and stick to what is more commonly done and perhaps more financially beneficial for yourself?
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Brown, A. (2012). Open access: why academic publishers still add value. Accessed: 05.05.17
The Ed Techie (2013). What sort of open do you want?. Accessed: 06.05.17
Forbes, (2013). Education Finally Ripe For Radical Innovation By Social Entrepreneurs. Accessed: 05.05.17
Lepitak, S. (2013). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Accessed: 05.05.17
Wiley (2014). Understanding open access. Accessed: 07.05.17