An adjunct’s challenge with Open Educational Resources

I teach in an area that would be served well by creating a decent eBook. One that has activities, is easy to update, and links to lots of resources available on the web. The problem is, it would take a fair bit of work to create said eBook. I’m in a position to do it technically, but I’m not employed to do it. I do not draw a salary and I’m not compensates for any professional development activities that I undertake. This means that if I were to do it, I would want it to not be free, so that I would be compensated for my work. Unfortunately, the prestige of having written an open/free eBook that gets used doesn’t pay the rent.

In some ways I’m struggling. I think the self-publishing movement has done a lot and will do a lot to help give voice to people who otherwise would not have a voice. That being said, you need to be rather digitally literate to figure out everything that you need to do to effectively self-publish (beyond blogging that is). And creating quality eBook content takes time and the skill of many different people. You not only need the subject matter expert, you need editors, and graphic artists, as well as producers/programers. So one cannot simply go it alone.

I’m struggling with the desire to write an eBook, but also the desire to make some money from the process. I cannot be giving away everything that I do. I cannot be an open scholar and an open educator and never be compensated for my time or effort. At some point in time, I need to be paid for at least some of the work that I do.

This is were I wonder, does the OER movement create/promote some of the disparities that it is trying to break down? Does it mean that only scholars who are paid by institutions have the freedom and ability to participate in creation? What about those living in developed countries? How do they participate in the creation of open scholarship? Is it just another form of colonization by the well off academy?

2 Comments on An adjunct’s challenge with Open Educational Resources

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    I struggle with this all the time. I had to stop teaching for a variety of reasons and have tried to earn a few dollars via my self-published books and other various free-lance writing gigs. It’s hard. Like you, I believe self-publishing has opened up doors, but at the same time, it’s still hard to market effectively. This is something that really frustrates me. I also think the internet has hurt writers in some respects. On the one hand, it’s opened up doors. But on the other hand, I feel taken advantage of sometimes. I am asked fairly often to write for sites, without compensation of course. Recently I decided I’m not going to do this anymore because it’s just not fair to writers. (Of course, there will be exceptions and I will still write for some w/o it because I want to) Why should writers, and yes, I include bloggers here, too, provide all this free content? I am rambling. Sorry. I would say, yes, write your ebook! Thank you for addressing this. I’ve wanted to write a post on this topic myself. Good luck with your decision.

    • Yes there is that request that comes up now and then to write for other blogs. As an academic the challenge is needing to make a name for myself – but on the other hand it is work and giving away my time for free. I do know of a couple of academic blogs that pay a small stipend for blog posts or electronic articles. Usually they are more practitioner focused – but useful to figure out which they are so I can balance out what I do for free and what I get paid for. If time permits, I think the book project will be my summer project. I agree that self-publishing is a double-edge sword. The barrier to entry is much lower, but the ability to actually make a living with it is much more challenging.

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