I try not to get caught up in reading the tea leaves on foundation intents, but certainly sounds like the Gates Foundation is getting involved in the OER space. Exhibit A from the Gates Foundation letter.
The foundation has made a few grants to drive online learning, but we are just at the start of this work. So far technology has hardly changed formal education at all. But a lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the Internet will surprise people in how it can improve things—especially in combination with face-to-face learning. With the escalating costs of education, an advance here would be very timely.
Most of us have had a teacher whose lectures made a subject seem fascinating even though we didn’t expect that it would be. If you are going to take the time to listen to a lecture, you should hear it from the very best. Now that finding and watching videos is a standard part of the Internet experience, we can put great teachers’ lectures online.
A number of universities are already putting lectures online for free. You can find a lot of these courses at sites like www.academicearth.org . I particularly like the physics courses by Walter Lewin and the solid-state chemistry course by Donald Sadoway, both from MIT. When I want to learn a new concept like the Carnot limit on getting usable energy out of heat, I often will watch lectures from different courses to see how it is explained and test my understanding.
But online learning can be more than lectures. Another element involves presenting information in an interactive form, which can be used to find out what a student knows and doesn’t know. This makes it possible to tailor the learning session to the individual student. Think about what happens to students who get into community college but are told to take remedial math because their test scores are below a cutoff level. The students have to spend time on the things they already know and don’t get to focus on the areas they are confused about. They get very little positive reinforcement from sitting in lectures. Most kids who are put into remedial math drop out before they ever get a degree because it is such a discouraging experience for them. On the other hand, the online system can quickly diagnose what the students know, provide positive feedback, and make sure their time is spent really improving the conceptual areas where they are weak.
Exhibit B, from the Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
A new report out from the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE identifies open content as a trend that will go mainstream in 2010. Quoteth the executive summary:
Open content, also expected to reach mainstream use in the next twelve months, is the current form of a movement that began nearly a decade ago, when schools like MIT began to make their course content freely available. Today, there is a tremendous variety of open content, and in many parts of the world, open content represents a profound shift in the way students study and learn. Far more than a collection of free online course materials, the open content movement is a response to the rising costs of education, the desire for access to learning in areas where such access is difficult, and an expression of student choice about when and how to learn.
The body of the report provides a great overview of the state of the movement, though completely misses the role of the OCW Consortium in fostering and highlighting the global body of open course materials–now an estimated 13,000 courses and growing by leaps and bounds. Still, great to see open content becoming more widely recognized and a testament to a decade of hard work on the part of folks working on OA journals, open text books, eduCommons and Moodle, Creative Commons, Connexions, Hippocampus, OpenCourseWares, Wikipedia…and on and on and on.
Some happy numbers for the MIT OpenCourseWare site from 2009:
- 15+ million visits
- 9+ million visitors
- 100+ million page views (not counting PDF views)
And a milestone we hit at the end of December:
- 1 million visits from the MIT community (the mit.edu domain) since launch
Happy happy joy joy.
The Call for Participation is now open for the upcoming Consortium global meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 5-7, 2010. This promises to be the best Consortium meeting to date, bringing together producers and policy makers to explore how OCW can be used as an infrastructure to support regional and national educational needs. Please consider joining us and submitting a proposal.
Call For Participation
We invite all in the field of open education to submit proposals for papers, discussions, and workshops. The theme of the Conference is Educational Policy and Sustainable OCW. The scope of the Conference includes, but is not limited to, the following major topics in OpenCourseWare:
- Sustainability and Beyond
- Technology and Accessibility
- Users of OCW
- OCW as Policy
You may choose the formats of your presentations as follows:
- Round-table Discussion
Some of the Important dates are:
Submission Deadline January 31, 2010 Acceptance notification February 15, 2010
An abstract of no more than 300 words should be submitted. At least one author of each accepted paper will present at the conference. All presentations will be available online to be downloaded. All presentations will be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license