Pretty simple really: as an institution we are unique in having enormous numbers of objects in our museum collections. These objects are part of teaching, research and object based learning. We are also interested in promoting public engagement with our collections and we publish resources as OER.
The museums have high quality scanning equipment already. My proposal is that we should make our next steps in to OER and publish 3-d scans of objects which can be printed off and enjoyed by people at home, in business and schools all over the world*. We should flood the internet with these things. We should ensure that when people search for something to print on their new 3-d printer, the first thing they find is not the parts for a gun, but a beautiful icon from the Ashmolean collection. Who wouldn’t want one of those masks from the Pitt-Rivers of the parts of an astrolabe from MHS?
We have made a great success of publishing audio, video, images and e-books as OER already. Lets move on to 3-d.
Lets start turning our physical learning objects into digital learning objects and then let others turn them back in physical objects again. They may even find new uses for them.
It would make finding Christmas presents a lot easier too.
* It turns out I am not the first person to think of this: Smithonian X