Open CourseWare

Disturbing the Educational Universe:
Universities in the Digital Age — Dinosaurs or Prometheans?

Historical Significance

  1. MIT Announced that it would use the internet to provide free access to all of it’s courses for free.
  2. Several universities and foundations joined together to create the Open Knowledge Initiative.

Key Points

  1. The Fork
    1. Machine-based digital environment
    2. Human Endeavor in residential universities
    3. The author argues that both will play a part in education in the future. At this point we must experiment to figure out what will work best.
      1. the focus should be on the enhancement of learning
      2. evaluation needs to be built into experiments
  2. The Principle of Openness
    1. Open Courseware
      1. “The glory of American higher education is its democratizing reach”
      2. The quality of American education has grown as materials have been produced and people with knowledge have gone out to share what they have gained. They are shortening the cycle time with the internet.
    2. Open Systems
      1. The purpose is to deliver materials for others to use as they would like to.
      2. Several universities and foundations joined together to create the Open Knowledge Initiative. The goal was to build an environment to develop an open architecture for learning management systems.
  3. Outward and Inward
    1. New media allows us to teach at a distance and to bring far flung experiences to our students.
      1. Outward – teaching students in campus and in other countries in the same course
      2. Inward – students getting feedback on projects from people in industry overseas.
  4. Sharing Laboratories, Libraries, and Lectures – All of theses can be and have been moved online. Some are very difficult to build and so different institutions will need to collaborate and share.
  5. Improving Education on our campus – fueling innovation.
    1. Technology expands possibilities for teaching and learning on campus.
    2. “Prudent use of technology enables faculty to concentrate more on the learning process and less on the direct transmission of information.” – This frees up time and resources for studio (combining lectures, recitations and hands-on learning)
  6. Legal Environment and Intellectual property Issues
    1. The needs of the entertainment industry have guided the development of laws that govern electronic media. They don’t necessary work for other industries. 
    2. MIT OCW raises questions about who owns course materials, especially when MIT resources were used to create a course.
  7. The Spectrum of Educational Technology: What’s Next?
    1. We should expect increased collaborative activities and electronic learning communities.
    2. Look to new interfaces and means of human-computer interaction for development.
  8. Dinosaurs or Prometheans?
    1. We should use technologies because they are useful, not just because they are there
    2. We need to be evaluating our experiments
    3. Competition will encourage everyone to produce higher quality ideas.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Are we past the point of experimentation (this was almost 10 years ago)? How do we know when that will be? Are we every going to be past experimenting, or should it just slow down?
  2. The author says: “The glory of American higher education is its democratizing reach”. Is this still true today? (when compared to other developed nations especially) Was it ever true?
  3. The author discusses laboratories, libraries and lectures online. What else has been moved online since? What else could be moved online?

History of MIT OCW

  1. 1999 – MIT considered how to use the internet to fulfill their mission – to advance knowledge and educatoin students
  2. 2000 – Proposed OCW
  3. 2002 – First site with 50 courses on it
  4. 2004 – OCW adopted CC license
  5. 2005 – OCW Consortium formed
  6. 2007 – Virtually the entire curriculum published online
  7. OCW Scholar, OCW Lecture Hall launched

MIT OCW Evaluation Report (2005)

Key Points

  1. Access
    1. Access growing dramatically (56% annual increase) on the original site as well as to mirror sites around the world.
    2. OCW materials are being distributed offline (printed and digital copies)
    3. OCW has a broad international audience
    4. Visitors are generally happy with the file formats
  2. Use
    1. OCW is used by educators students and self learners for many purposes
    2. Many faculty who contribute to OCW feel they have improved their regular courses thought he process.
  3. Impact
    1. A great majority of visitors find OCW positives and useful
    2. many more universities have initiated projects similar to MIT OCW

Questions for Discussion

  1. MIT OCW use is centered on subjects that MIT is recognized in, would (or have?) other subjects gained more attention when coming from a university recognized in those fields?

MIT Reaches OCW Milestone

  1. Two MIT OCW videos (probably more now) have been in the top 10 on Youtube – they are complicated sounding engineering and math courses. It seems like people want to learn, even things that aren’t traditionally “interesting”
  2. MIT OCW includes a disclaimer that it is not an MIT education. What are the things that make education human?


Historical Significance

  1. Members of the OCW Consortium in non-English speaking countries translated MIT OCW but also offered English versions, there was talk of imperialism
  2. THE Utah legislature was the first to fund OpenCourseWare
  3. Google agreed to provide funds for OCW as long as universities would waive the NC requirements for them. They did this for a while, then stopped. Schools “had” to participate, or fall behind.
  4. Congress set aside money for OCW initiatives at public universities.
  5. And we wait for the publisher backlash, tbc in chapter 16 of Opening Up Education
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