OpenCourseWare ioe12

OpenCourseWare (OCW) is the provision of course materials provided openly on the Web and pioneered by MIT.

I recall the time of the MIT announcement as I worked in a Computing Services department of a UK university the Deputy Director at the time saying that MIT was putting all its courses online. I tried to make the distinction that it wasn’t their courses but their courseware that was being made public and that there was much more to a course than its content. Fundamentally, education is more that just content, it is the added value above and beyond the content; it is the interaction of students with faculty, with other students, with experts, with novices, anything that creates an intellectually challenging environment to challenge pre-existing beliefs. In the Openness in Education OpenCourseWare topic video, the announcement press conference (I’ve linked to the MIT hosted version) filmed at MIT (4 April 2001), MIT President Charles Vest makes this point quite distinctly in his opening speech, and again in response to questioning. Importantly for me and the work I’m currently involved in, Prof. Vest strongly points to the “deeply ingrained sense of service” and “incredible idealism” within the MIT faculty. This for me encapsulated the ethos of a deep sense of commitment to what education means to illustrious and highly motivated educations at one of the world’s great educational institutions. Prof. Steve Lerman (Chairman of the Faculty) says that selling courses for profit is not why most of the faculty do what they do, and it’s not the mission of the University. A fundamental value is how you create and disseminate human knowledge. Also, the fact that such an idea, and indeed a venture, could come seemingly from the grassroots faculty is extremely encouraging for me personally.

Prof. Hal Abelson (EECS) points out that going through the process of creating OCW actually allows faculty to reflect upon their own teaching practice; what they are doing with their own students. Once the content has been ‘separated’ from the education process you are able to think more deeply about the overall educational experience.

Prof. Vest goes on to say that openness is a successful way for bright people to innovate, as was the case with software – so for education. This would seem to draw in other topics from the Openness in Education course, particularly the Open Source topic.

From the video, intellectual property rights wasn’t as large an issue for the faculty at MIT as had been anticipated. Instead there was more of a concern about quality of product and service to end user.

The MIT initiative celebrated its ten year anniversary in April last year. In those intervening years, MIT through ‘OCW has shared materials from more than 2000 courses with an estimated 100 million individuals worldwide.’ ( accessed 27 January 2012). Well over a million visits are logged each month on MIT OCW, accessed from 200 countries.

I guess paralleling the MIT OCW, the Open High School of Utah is committed to making available its entire curriculum as Open Courseware, thus providing a freely available high school level education.

The OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWareConsortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and associated organizations committed to advancing OpenCourseWare and its impact on global education. They serve as a resource for starting and sustaining OCW projects, as a coordinating body for the movement on a global scale, and as a forum for exchange of ideas and future planning. ( accessed 27 Jaunary 2012).

Individuals, whether they represent Consortium members or not, are welcome to use and modify materials and resources found on this website, and to participate in discussions, webinars, communities of interest, and other Consortium activities. ( accessed 27 January 2012).

There is a useful search facility on the site to allow access to courseware from member institutions, with course descriptions and overviews, and links to access and download the full courseware or individual sections. You can also access courses via the categorizations or the catalog.

The Toolkit section of the Consortium’s website has a collection of resources (or a ‘shed full of toolkits’) to help with development of an OCW project. This will prove very useful for me personally in the immediate future.

There is a master list of Consortium members, or you can use the map or list of countries/regions to narrow down your search to a geographical area.

In the UK there are six OpenCourseWare Consortium members:

Institutions of Higher Education   

Organizational Members

This compares with 51 from the USA, four from Canada, one from Australia, 39 from Spain, and 25 from Japan.


#change11 week 16 Irvine & Code – Post 1

Don’t confuse the message with the medium.

This is the new mantra for established business models that are finding it difficult to adapt to the 21st Century. The primary example often quoted is that of newspapers. The message in this case is a rigorous journalistic approach to news coverage and strong editorial comment. The medium doesn’t matter, be it paper, a blog, or what ever.

The same can therefore be applied to Higher Education. People want quality, rigour, challenging, all combining to change them and their thinking, improving their knowledge and experience. The medium, in this case university, is again becoming questionable.

So from this week’s reading,

What can brick and mortar Universities do to adapt, innovate, remain both competitive and relevant in this situation? In essence, become part of the 21st century? We will discuss the issues universities face and how they can meet the demands of students for flexibility.

This obviously starts from the point that it is actually a good thing for universities to remain and persist in being the gatekeepers of accreditation for degree qualifications. This might not always be the case, certainly in specific areas where professional qualifications might hold greater kudos. Added to this, it is projected that bricks & mortar universities can’t meet the increasing future demand for higher education globally, they couldn’t be built fast enough.

It’ll be interesting to do further reading from this week of the course to develop a greater understanding.


Openness in Education Course

So I chanced upon a tweet yesterday about David Wiley’s new Openness in Education Course starting that day and thought, ‘Yep, I need to be involved in that.’ I fired off my application to register this blog as the vehicle I’ll be using in the process. And here I go.

Block Posters

I was immediately impressed with Block Posters.

You can take any of your images and then decide how you’d like it sliced up. Download the pdf file and each of these slices can now be printed out and put together to create a great big poster.

This can be used to create artworks around your home, blow ups of your favourite photos at a fraction of the price, etc. Also, it can be used in the classroom for displaying material to students, or by students to display their ideas and emphasis their points. Extending that idea, when university students have to produce posters this could be an alternative to expensive production via professional printers; I’m all for reducing the cost of education. But for an alternative approach remember Glogster.

BBC On Top of the Digital World

At the end of last week I was too tired to actually do any research or writing so I sat back and went onto BBC iPlayer. I usually look in the factual section: it means I might take in some useful information during a time when I wouldn’t necessarily be doing anything productive. I noticed a learning sub-category and clicked on it. There were lots of programmes for younger children and then down at the bottom was ‘On Top of the Digital World‘, from the BBC Learning Zone and aimed at 11-19 year old learning. The Learning Zone runs overnight on BBC 2, so you can set up a recording and watch the information programmes at another time.

I began watching it and thought, “WOW this is so good”. Over the weekend I managed to find time to play both available episodes. I think that the format is great. The programmes are 1 hr long per episode, but there are multiple articles each lasting between about five and 10 minutes long covering topics about how young people are using and interacting in the ‘Digital World’. This material can inform all age groups, and could certainly be useful to some of my colleagues.

Episode 1 covers:

  • Cyber celeb (0 – 6mins)
  • Checking you out online – identity (6 – 11min 57sec)
  • Hey that’s mine – copyright (11min 57sec – 18min 52sec)
  • A day in the life of Jellyellie (18min 53sec – 25min 35sec)
  • Anything goes online? – good/bad information (25min 35sec – 32min 20sec)
  • Cyberbullying ( 32min 20sec – 39min 52sec)
  • Getting the message out – political campaigning (39min 53sec – 45min 25sec)
  • Cyberstalking (45min 25sec – 52min 12sec)
  • What’s the point of age rated games? (52min 12sec – 58min – 57sec)

Episode 2 covers:

  • Making money online (0min – 7min 10sec)
  • Catching the copycat – plagiarism (7min 10sec – 12min)
  • Brains behind the games (12min – 17min 54sec)
  • The past online (17min 54sec – 24min 20sec)
  • Buying and selling online (24min 20 sec – 31min 26sec)
  • When gaming takes over – gaming addiction (31min 26sec – 38min 39sec)
  • Accessibility (38min 39sec – 45min 38sec)
  • Marketing online (45min 38sec – 52min 31sec)
  • Blogging (52min 31sec – 58min 52 sec)

I don’t know how long these will be available on iPlayer (programmes usually last about a week on there), but if they are still available then they are well worth a look for any age.

Link to the On Top of the Digital World site for iPlayer.

Keynote: Chris Lehmann

The PETE&C Tuesday Morning Keynote: Chris Lehmann:Chris Lehmann is the Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. http://scienceleadershi…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Next Generation Textbooks – Flexbooks

Sometimes you encounter something that changes your own mindset, the way you work, the way you want to do things. You want to get involved, to make this better. I’ve just come across one such idea.

The work of the CK-12 Foundations is mindblowingly excellent. Their mission is to create access to cheap textbooks both for the US and Worldwide. How will they achieve this? Well, they’re pioneering the ‘Flexbook‘, which is an open-content, web-based collaboration model where it’s possible to take Creative Commons Licensed content from one of the available standard text on the site and repurpose it for the learning experience required. This is achieved using the online software to extract chapters or sections from the text, mix it with your own content from a Word file for example, and package it together into a ‘book’ that can be exported to a pdf file for printing out and use with learners.

For cK-12’s much better explanation:

Screenshot of Flexbook site

This needs to be made to work in a much wider contexted. This template could be used throughout education. It’s brilliant. It works for both formal learning setting and individual, informal learning.