Sustainability Smarthistory Kickstarter

by P

I am at the P2PU NY Camp organized by John Britton, and in one of today’s session Alan Webb led a brainstorm to identify additional ideas for long-term P2PU sustainability (see this page for our notes). And 5 minutes later this email from Beth Harris at Smarthistory (the amazing multi-media web book about art and art history) arrived.

We’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to create at least 100 new videos. This will make Smarthistory a truly viable, free alternative to the traditional and very expensive art history textbook for you, and for students around the world.

How are these two things related? In our sustainability conversation today kickstarter (and a related service called came up and we were discussing about ways to integrate different aspects of P2PU with kickstarter campaigns. So, it was nice to see that others in the Open Edu space are looking at crowd funding mechanisms like kickstarter to support their efforts as well. Sustainability is a big issue for many OER and OCW projects – and getting the public involved is a great way to raise funds, and get a reality check on the services and value one provides. This approach doesn’t work for everything – some ideas are important, but more at the infrastructure level and might not appeal to a wide audience, but there are lots of things it could be used for. One idea was to help course organizers who can’t afford to run courses (and especially run courses repeatedly) raise funds through a P2PU kickstarter campaign – of which a small overhead charge would go towards supporting the core P2PU operations. There are lots of questions around paying for individual contributions in volunteer communities – and it has to be done carefully to not destabilize the intrinsic incentive mechanisms that are in place right now. But at the same time, tying some form of financial reward to individual courses would be a great gauge of value that users place in particular subjects, disciplines, or course organizers.