OpenLearn is accessible both financially and for those with disabilities, so it is open and innovative. For those who are 'hard to reach' e.g. have not heard of it or are not computer-literate, it is less open. Additionally "open document formats may be seen as a barrier if it means downloading new software" (JISC, 2014). The more recent easy to use drop-down boxes are much easier for locating locate topics of interest than when I last looked at OpenLearn. Its quizzes and graphics are eye-catching too - I had to pull myself away!
The Open University discusses the historical context of OpenLearn and its achievements. "Established in 2006 it started as a two-year experiment to understand how we can operate in a more open manner and what benefits it brings for learners, educators and The Open University. Since then OpenLearn has become an integrated part of The Open University attracting more than 5 million unique visitors each year" (The Open University, 2014). However the university does not state the financial implications, whether they believe the benefits outweigh the cost and if it had been considered as a target for their budget-trimming.
Conventional universities provide OER too. "The most compelling argument for the release of OER is the marketing opportunities that it provides. The more you release the more people know about you" – Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor, University of Lincoln (JISC, 2013). OpenLearn challenges conventional assumptions about paying for higher education modules by being available to anyone who can use a computer. Previously universities were places where mostly white middle class non-disabled men (and later on, women) would frequent. OER has broken down the barrier of low social economic status (Tekleselassie, 2010). Younger and mature students can study whilst juggling other commitments such as work and family.
Tekleselassie, A. (2010). Demystifying Conventional Assumptions: Do African American parents anticipate investing less toward their children’s college costs than their white peers? Journal of Student Financial Aid, 40 (2), 5-20.
The Open University, (2014) http://www.open.ac.uk/about/open-educational-resources/oer-projects/openlearn