A Labor Department program intended to fund Open Educational Resources for community colleges may find its innovation greatly limited by restrictions proposed by the House of Representatives, according to Inside Higher Ed. Aimed at providing workforce development and job training, the Department of Labor program has allocated nearly 500 million dollars to community colleges nationwide seeking to explore new strategies. A list of award recipients can be found here.
The proposed constraint would forbid using grant money to develop publicly available educational materials if the potential product greatly resembles a commercially available option. According to Inside Higher Ed, this includes not only presently available products but also extends to products still in development. Essentially, the spirit of the legislation is to prevent public money from being used to compete with private, for-profit companies offering educational resources. Proponents of the measure claim using public money to develop existing software is inefficient and wasteful. Critics disagree, saying competition and enhancement are vital to continuing educational innovation.
The proposed limitation can be found in the proposed House of Representatives BudgetFiscal Year 2012 Budget, available here.