Amazon to explore OER

Today in Inside Higher Ed, Matt Reed writes that Amazon, of Amazon.com fame, announced an upcoming project that will be a hub for OER. As Reed notes:

So Amazon is working on a site that will curate Open Educational Resources. The initial market is K-12, though I have a hard time imagining higher ed will be far away. They’re calling it Amazon Inspire, and it’s supposed to launch in a few months.

Hmm.

This could be very good or very bad. But I’m leaning towards very good.

On one level, of course, it’s fourteen kinds of awesome. I’m a big fan of OER, but I know that one of the major barriers to widespread adoption is the difficulty in finding material. Combining Amazon’s considerable skill at user-friendly search, and user reviews, with a repository of freebies would make exploration much easier.

Although we’ve seen major steps towards great hubs for OER discovery (Open Textbook Library and Digital Commons’ Teaching Commons for example), there are still barriers between users and OER. Perhaps, as Reed notes, Amazon’s venture could be a very good thing!

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