Much of the talk about OERs concerns their adoption and use. However, without proper consideration of the different models for their production, it is possible that a OERs will never become available at a volume and quality that makes their adoption a real possibility for institutions looking at a market where cost is only one of the considerations.
The typical model is that of an individual content creator (or possibly an institution) who decides to share her materials. However, this rarely leads to sustainable and readily reusable materials. A more likely result is for these materials to languish unused in one of the many repositories. We need to consider alternatives to this and make them explicit when talking about OERs. Luckily, there are several successful models that have worked and can be adopted for OERs.
This paper will consider three models of successful open content creation that should be more widely considered and supported by funders.
1) Wikipedia is perhaps the best known example of large-scale creation of open content. However, the way through which it is created and maintained is often confused with ‘crowd effects’. In fact, Wikipedia became successful because its creators are anything but a crowd, but are instead loosely organised into editorial groups with meritocratic responsibilities.
2) Code sprints (books sprints) provide a model for creating large amounts of documentation in short focused working sessions with experts gathered in one space. They have been extremely successful in both creating open source software and documentation for the software.
3) Fan Fiction is another area of content creation where free (although mostly not freely licensed) content is made available at a large scale. While mostly following the lone-creator model, Fan Fiction communities have largely resolved the editorial process through a system of alpha and beta readers as well as a network of reviewers who make content discoverable for others.
These models can co-exist and combined with one another. This paper will explore how existing OER projects could benefit from these models and present examples of where it has already happened.