(Another short snippet from the upcoming Battle for Open book, not sure about this, so trying it out on you lot).
One way of viewing the open approach is to think of it as analogous to a virus. Once adopted, it tends to spread across many other aspects. In personal practice, once an academic publishes a paper under an open access license, then there is then an incentive to use various forms of social media to promote that paper, which can positively impact upon views and citations. Similarly, although the free cost is the initial driving factor for the adoption of open textbooks, once these have become established, the ability to adapt the material to better suit their particular needs becomes an important factor for educators. Likewise, when educators and institutions begin to use OERs in their own teaching material, then the question arises as to why they are not then reciprocating and sharing back. As we've seen with OER Research Hub work, this practice is not guaranteed, and may be slow to penetrate, but the act of sharing becomes legitimised by the adoption of materials from high reputation institutions.
It is no coincidence that many of the MOOC pioneers had also been early adopters of open access, active bloggers, and advocates of open licenses. Creating open courses seemed the next logical step, because they were interested in the possibilities that openness offered and had seen the benefits elsewhere in their practice. This spread of the open virus is by no means guaranteed, many practitioners remain immune, and for others the open practice remains limited to a very specific function. But it does seem to be a pattern that is repeated across all aspects of open practice. It is significant in the context of the book, because if we are now entering a transition period when open practice enters the mainstream, then (to stretch the metaphor) the number of people ‘exposed’ to the open virus increases dramatically and it becomes a pandemic. It is also significant because it requires individuals to be the agents of action. The compartmentalising of openness into specific projects or outsourcing it to external providers creates a barrier that isolates individual educators from exposure. The impact of openness is thus contained.