Saturday, January 28, 2012

Open Courseware

The resources for this topic include a recording of the press conference in which MIT announces their open courseware project. On April 4, 2001, Kenneth Campbell, Charles Vest, Steven Lerman, Harold Abelson and Dick Yue appear in front of the assembled journalists.

A council on Ed Tech was established; a sub group was charged with coming up with a creative cutting-edge way to reach beyond the boundaries of the MIT campus. And the administration had somewhat expected some sort of revenue generating initiative.

Open courseware (OCW) was to provide free access to primary content of virtually every course at MIT. Not to provide an MIT education on the Web. But core materials. Real education involves interaction between Faculty and students.

MIT as a leader. Hope that other institution will do the same.
And these days, in 2012, as the list of members of the open courseware consortium shows, hundreds of higher education institutions, organisations and associate consortia have followed the initiative. Please note, not all institutions offering Open Courseware are member of the consortium. 
How did faculty respond to the suggested idea? One would expect concerns about intellectual property, and there were some. But the majority of discussion was around the ability to implement this with sufficient quality. And if services to support faculty in the process would be available.
"This resonated with what many of us believe is the core business of this university [..] it is very much about how do you disseminate and create human knowledge."

When MIT first went public with this news, I remember being quite amazed and excited about it. And Then I went and looked at these resources (in the beginning they were rather limited, and I must confess I have not been back recently until now) and realised that indeed, you do not learn from looking at a syllabus and reading the description of an assignment. Someone needs to bring this to life somehow. Better start saving for that tuition fee ...

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