INFORMATION IS PRICELESS. With MIT’s OpenCourseWare – the university’s classes offered online for free – as well as a long list of other quality free educational resources, the public perception of what holds value in education has changed. Facts and how-to’s are freely available to anyone with Internet access. So why pay upwards of $40,000 a year in tuition? “OpenCourseWare was an important signpost that hammered home the point that the content of a university course was being rapidly commoditized by technology,” DeMillo said in the interview with New York Times reporter Tamar Lewin. “If you [college professor] think your value is in 13 weeks of lectures, then exams, it’s true that that’s probably not going to be as valuable in the future.”
The entire article is filled with pie-in-the-sky thinking along these lines. They espouse the virtues of open courseware, and how in the future everyone will go to college for free because it’s all free online. Really. I guess we’ll conveniently overlook things like:
Accreditation, which is important when you’re getting a…
Degree, which employers like to see come from an accredited school
The fact that successful online students are organized and motivated (how many 18-year-olds do you know who embody those two things?)
Faculty who’ll apparently teach for free
Who will maintain and keep the open content current
It astounds me how often these writers let themselves fall in love with the idea of everyone picking up a full-blown, self-directed college education online, completely disregarding the traditional college experience (which includes a heavy dose of social and personal development), or the value of a structured degree program that frequently includes internship or placement opportunities as part of the learning experience. Sorry, not everyone can drop out and start Apple or Facebook.
"The business model is traditional in the sense that everything that we do when we go to publish a textbook is the same as any of the traditional houses: We find great authors. We sign them to a contract. They write the book. We do the editorial work. We do marketing and so on. But the day we publish that book, things go a little differently—well, a lot differently—from the traditional model. We actually give away the book for free online."
The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses. Think of it as online book clubs for open educational resources. The P2PU helps you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses. Students and tutors get recognition for their work, and we are building pathways to formal credit as well.
In his work as a professor, Stephen Downes used to feel that he was helping those who least needed it. His students at places like the University of Alberta already had a leg up in life and could afford the tuition.
So when a colleague suggested they co-teach an online class in learning theory at the University of Manitoba, in 2008, Mr. Downes welcomed the chance to expand that privileged club. The idea: Why not invite the rest of world to join the 25 students who were taking the course for credit?
For many of us, another semester is right around the corner. For those of us who adhere to an Open CourseWare (OCW) philosophy, it’s a good time to evaluate (or re-evaluate) our personal OCW strategy. For those who are thinking about getting onboard with OCW, now is a perfect time to think about how best to go about getting in on the game.
This new and growing collection pulls together an assortment of free textbooks available online. The list is mostly slanted toward science and math (that’s what is out there), and the texts are almost entirely written by college professors or qualified high school teachers. In some instances, these texts were originally published in book format, and now the authors have decided to publish them online. In other cases, authors joining the “open textbook” movement (see Flat World Knowledge, CK-12, Curriki, etc.) have published their works for the first time in electronic format, often under a Creative Commons license. We will update the list continually. But if you see good texts missing, please feel free to ping us. You can access 100+ Free Textbooks: A Meta Collection here, and please forward the link to any young students or lifelong learners who might benefit…
By the way: If you haven’t visited Open Culture before, now’s a great time to start.
New York University plans to join the growing movement to publish academic material online as free, open courseware. But in addition to giving away content—something other colleges have done—NYU plans a more ambitious experiment. The university wants to explore ways to reprogram the roles of professors in large undergraduate classes, using technology to free them up for more personal instruction.
This fall NYU will start publishing free online videos for every lecture in as many as 10 courses. They include classes on New York City history, the biology of the human body, introductory sociology, and statistics.
Previous open-courseware projects tended to be text-based, with content like syllabi and lecture notes. NYU’s site would expand the online library of academic videos available to the general public.
What’s more unusual, though, is the vision to build souped-up versions of the material for NYU students only. Freed from the copyright restrictions of publishing on the open Web, these video courses would have live links to sources discussed by professors in passing, as well as pop-up definitions and interactive quizzes.
Every semester, a few students in Steven White’s business and marketing courses ask to borrow the professor’s copy of the course textbook. They can’t afford one for themselves, White said, and their sub-par exam scores show it.
That’s why White, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor since 1998, supports a federal law that aims to lower skyrocketing college textbook costs by making students privy to a class’s book prices before they register for the course, requires publishers to disclose book prices to professors, and rids textbooks of “bundles” like CDs and access to web sites that raise prices.
Analogous to “open source,” open content comprises content or creative work that—unlike copyrighted material—allows copying and modifying by anyone who reads and interacts with it. In the higher education space, open content has so far been largely limited to course syllabi published online and free for all to view and use.
Einztein’s library, approved of and curated by scholars and educational experts, features a search engine that helps students and educators drill down to exactly the course they’re searching for, doing the “heavy lifting of cataloguing and indexing the courses into a searchable library,” according to the announcement.
The fragmented world of open courseware should be transformed into “a worldwide resource that’s very clear who should use what,” Bill Gates said in a speech on Wednesday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.