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STATE AND INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE
MITís OpenCourseWare (OCW) Initiative:
Reading the Implications
Russell Poulin, Associate Director, WCET, has alerted us to a paper funded
by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and prepared by WCET, titled, MITís
OpenCourseWare (OCW) Initiative: Reading the Implications.† It can be downloaded
as a PDF file at: http://www.wiche.edu/wcet/resources/publications/ocw.pdf
A few paragraphs from that paper are copied below.
. . . Over the next few years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
will post on the Web the core documents for more than 2000 of its courses. Under
the OpenCourseWare (OCW) program, these materials will be available free of
charge to anyone with an Internet connection.
. . . OCW will not provide "online courses," as that term is usually
understood. Rather, the typical offering will consist of key course documents:
reading lists, lecture notes, assignments, and, where appropriate, experiments,
demonstrations and samples of studentsí work.
. . .The essentially costless, instant availability of these materials will
open up MITís pedagogical methods to inspection by all. Faculty members, enrolled
students and individual learners will be free to use or adapt OCW material as
they see fit. MIT copyrights will require only proper attribution of authorship
for any non-commercial use. (Commercial uses will require a specific license.)
. . . It is expected that other universities will produce their own variations
of open course archives, and one of the goals of the MIT project is to help
ensure that OCW is easily replicable. To that end, the multi-university Open
Knowledge Initiative (OKI) aims to develop structures that are compatible with
diverse "learning management system" software.
OpenCourseWare is conceptually straightforward: put course material on the
Web and give it away as a worldwide educational resource. The consequences for
higher education institutions, both in the US and internationally, are anything
- Transparency of course materials and methods will allow easier comparison
of educational approaches. Will such openness spur beneficial competition,
both within and across institutions, to yield improved pedagogical effectiveness?
- With minimal control over copying and adapting material, OCW represents
a new approach to exercising the protections of copyright. How will the resulting
intellectual property issues be confronted and solved?
- Among the most important beneficiaries may be universities in the developing
world. How can OCW materials be made maximally useful for countries with different
languages, cultures, and economies?
MITís OpenCourseWare program is described primarily in terms of its goal to
make available the basic content of nearly all courses. But MIT and other universities
are also concerned with the development of underlying learning management systems
(LMS) and related educational tools, to help institutions adapt materials from
programs like OCW to their individual circumstances. To this end, MIT is one
of several institutions collaborating on OKI: the Open Knowledge Initiative.7
OKIís goal is develop public domain software for a robust "course management
system" (a.k.a., learning management system), that would provide tools
to supplement the many existing commercial CMS/LMS offerings now commonly found
on US campuses.
Jay Thompson, Executive Director
Consortium for Open Learning
3841 North Freeway Blvd., Suite 200
Sacramento, California 95834-1948
(916) 565-0188† (916) 565-0189 (Fax)