OpenFiction [Blog]

Saylor Foundation Executive Director

Posted in open education by scarsonmsm on February 12, 2013

I recently heard from Alana Harrington that she is leaving her post as Executive Director for the Saylor Foundation.  I’ll be sorry to see her take her leave, as she’s made tremendous contributions to the open education movement though her work there.  She’s heading up the search for her successor, so if anyone is interested, the position description is below.  Best of luck down the road, Alana!

 

THE SAYLOR FOUNDATION

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Overview

The Saylor Foundation seeks an experienced, dynamic, self-motivated visionary leader to take on the position of EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of this Washington, DC 501(c)(3) organization.

About the Saylor Foundation
The Constitution Foundation (DBA The Saylor Foundation) was established in 1999 by Michael J. Saylor, the CEO of a leading business intelligence technology company, MicroStrategy. The Foundation is deeply involved as a leader and innovator in open education.  Its initiatives are at the forefront of developing  and structuring  online open educational resources, with the goal of increasing the accessibility of higher education and driving down the cost of higher education. The Foundation is committed to employing technology as a primary driver in spurring education advances. Read more about our organization and efforts in digital education in the Chronicle of Higher Education and in Forbes.

About the Free Education Initiative
Conceived as a way to organize web-based resources into a comprehensive, coherent, and useable body of courseware, Saylor.org now offers over 270 free online courses to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection.  The wealth of material available through Saylor.org, as extensive as that available from a college or university, is founded on a robust architecture and innovative method to build and disseminate free, high quality courses to those lacking access to traditional schooling.   Leveraging our resources through experimental approaches layered upon this proven methodology, we engage  dozens of experienced professors to build college-level, K-12, and professional development courses from high quality resources available on the Web. We readily partner with other institutions to expand the reach and distribution of our materials, participate as a launch partner of Google Course Builder and utilize I-Tunes University as one of many ways to reach our constituents.

Position Description

The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will operate under the guidance of and report directly to the Foundation Trustee, Michael J. Saylor, its General Counsel, and  Advisory Board .

The successful candidate is an individual who is comfortable with aggressive goals, as well as evolving products and action plans, and boasts excellent analytical skills, a strong attention to detail, and the ability to work well in a fast-paced team environment.  As an established leader in the field,  Saylor.org  affords an exciting opportunity for candidates with an entrepreneurial spirit who like to create and innovate.  This person will be expected to think through and ultimately answer mission-critical questions for the organization. This role requires flexibility, as this individual will tackle a wide variety of projects with significant autonomy, and will build relationships internally across “departments” as well as externally.

The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will be responsible for a cutting-edge, open courseware program that has the potential to change the face of education. He or she will develop priorities for the organization based on the Trustee’s preferences, create and implement plans, and coordinate programmatic initiatives, technology, collaboration, and work efforts across the entire project. He or she will develop and maintain effective partnerships with external organizations to foster interoperability and cohesion within the open and digital education community. Directing a staff of 48 Full Time and Part Time Employees as well as over 400 independent contractors, the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will manage the fiscal and human resources of the Foundation.  The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will lead the team in identifying targets, articulating core value propositions, closing deals, and growing existing partnerships to improve our product and expand our reach.

This position requires extensive experience in leading and cultivating communities and organizations, evidenced by an impressive professional track record and strong academic background. This position requires excellent leadership and communication skills, understanding of the traditional and nontraditional education systems, knowledge of open education programs and practices, and demonstrated effectiveness in managing staff and resources.

The successful candidate is poised, gregarious, and a natural born leader.  He or she is an excellent and comfortable presenter and networker and thrives in the public eye.   The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will be expected to detect changes in the organization’s functioning, culture, and dynamics and make the appropriate changes to enhance productivity while also achieving organizational harmony and balance.

He or she will not only strive to advance the Saylor Foundation’s mission, but will also actively contribute to the vision and thought leadership of the field of digital education and publicly communicate this vision.

Responsibilities of the DIRECTOR will include, but will not be limited to:

1)     Oversee the day-to-day operations of the Foundation, lead the creation of a shared vision for staff, the Trustee, and pertinent external groups, and educate others on the future direction of the Foundation and inspire and motivate them to be supporters and advocates;

2)     Represent the Foundation and speak compellingly and effectively about the Saylor model, growth and strategic plans at industry events; increase the visibility of the organization and build and maintain long term relationships with key partners and potential donors and advocates;

3)     Set a collaborative leadership example for the team while effectively conveying and representing the Trustee’s vision and directives to staff;

4)     Advocate among influential constituencies as a driver in the open education movement and the rise of digital education;

5)     Work with the human resources and legal team to create awareness of ethical, behavioral, and procedural standards expected of all employees and encourage a transparent culture in which these policies are understood and lived out at all organizational levels; prevent and manage breaches as they arise.

6)     Make effective and law- and regulation- abiding decisions in hiring, firing, placement, promotion, termination and compensation in conjunction with the Foundation’s General Counsel and human resources department;

7)     Guide cross-team and cross-organizational collaboration while working as a team player and effectively relating to a diversity of individuals with varying strengths, experience, and interests;

8)     Establish sound financial systems of accountability,  to prepare and take responsibility for the annual budget; manage and oversee all outgoing expenditures and allocated resources to each program and department;

9)     Develop and revise a monthly reporting mechanism for programmatic activity in order to report on and keep  abreast of, developments and patterns of success/failure.

10)  Understand and evangelize the Saylor.org product while developing relationships with target content partners, corporate sponsors AND traditional press and media outlets in order to increase awareness of the Foundation’s mission and status.

11)  Travel as required.

The breadth and scope of the Saylor.org project almost defies description — the new EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR must embrace a fast-paced and demanding work environment with constant strategic challenges and moving targets.  The organization’s programs and priorities are constantly evolving as is the nature of the industry within which it resides; the successful candidate must be equally as adaptable and not only survive change but embrace it.

QUALIFICATIONS

1)     Extensive executive leadership experience (8 or more years) in education and/or digital education. Academic experience highly desirable. B.A./B.S. required; advanced degree in Education highly preferred.

2)     Demonstrated ability to lead, plan, and support a functionally organized environment, with staff working on a wide variety of activities. Ability to forecast, develop and implement organizational initiatives.

3)     Ability to think strategically and programmatically as well as successfully manage operations. Ability to set priorities, allocate resources, provide follow-through, assure a well-organized workforce and to provide evaluation of projects and efforts.

4)     Superb management skills, and demonstrated ability to lead, motivate and direct both professional and technical staff. Demonstrated success in managing fiscal, technology and human resources.  Excellent project management skills, including demonstrated ability to deliver superior results on deadline.

5)       Competent understanding of and comfort with embracing technology as an innovative force as demonstrated through professional experience and interests.

Details & Compensation

This is a full-time position.  The successful candidate will work at the Foundation’s headquarters in Washington DC. with monthly meetings in Vienna, VA required.  Pay is commensurate with experience on a not-for-profit scale and in-line with senior government leadership positions.  Health care benefits included for hired individual.

The Saylor Foundation
1000 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 220
Washington DC   20007
p: (202) 333-4005

New free course by human genome pioneer Dr. Eric Lander announced

Posted in MIT OpenCourseWare, mitx by scarsonmsm on January 30, 2013

Massive open online course to share how genetics is transforming our understanding of human biology and disease.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 30, 2013 — In the 1990′s and early ’00s, Dr. Eric Lander led the Human Genome Project’s efforts to sequence the entire human genome; now he brings that wealth of experience to a unique new free course that will share how human genetics is answering some of the most difficult questions about human life at its most fundamental level. In the coming decades, scientists will be able to understand how cells are “wired” and how that wiring is disrupted in human diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer to schizophrenia.

The course, 7.00x Introductory Biology: “The Secret of Life”, is slated to start March 5th, and registration is now open. In addition revealing the cutting edge of human genetics, the course also promises to be an innovative educational experience. Developed out of Professor Lander’s 20 years of experience teaching MIT undergraduates, the course has been completely rethought and retooled, incorporating cutting-edge online interactive tools as well as community-building contests and milestone-based prizes.

“Introducing the freshman class of MIT to the basics of biology is exhilarating,” said Lander. “Now, with this edX course, I look forward to teaching people around the world. There are no prerequisites for this course – other than curiosity and an interest in understanding some of the greatest scientific challenges of our time.”

Lander’s materials were also used in the creation of MIT OpenCourseWare’s 7.01SC Fundamentals of Biology, one of our unique OCW Scholar courses. OCW Scholar courses provide MIT course materials in a self-guided format that can be accessed at any time, but do not include instructor support or recognition for completion.

In addition to Professor Lander’s class, MIT has announced two additional new courses to be offered through edX, Electricity and Magnetism by Walter Lewin and The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Circuits and Electronics and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, offered in 2012, are again available in 2013.

About Professor Lander

Dr. Eric Lander is President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a new kind of collaborative biomedical research institution focused on genomic medicine. Dr. Lander is also Professor of Biology at MIT and Professor of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School. In addition, Dr. Lander serves as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which advises the White House on science and technology. A geneticist, molecular biologist and mathematician, Dr. Lander has played a pioneering role in all aspects of the reading, understanding and medical application of the human genome. He was a principal leader of the international Human Genome Project (HGP) from 1990-2003, with his group being the largest contributor to the mapping and sequencing of the human genetic blueprint. Dr. Lander was an early pioneer in the free availability of genomic tools and information. Finally, he has mentored an extraordinary cadre of young scientists who have become the next generation of leaders in medical genomics. The recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, Dr. Lander was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and of the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 1999.

About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,150 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.

Contact:

Stephen Carson
External Relations Director
MIT OpenCourseWare
617-253-1250
scarson@mit.edu
http://ocw.mit.edu

Just what I need

Posted in media, MIT OpenCourseWare by scarsonmsm on January 30, 2013

Given my ability to keep up on this blog, and the demands of the Mechanical MOOC blog (http://mechanicalmooc.wordpress.com), about the last thing I need is to be responsible for the care and feeding of yet another. But despite my personal misgivings, we are launching an official MIT OpenCourseWare blog, Open Matters, at http://mitopencourseware.wordpress.com.

To be honest, we’ve needed it for some time, but weren’t sure we had the capacity to keep it stocked with good content; at this point, though, there is just so much going on in open ed that we need a more flexible way of getting news out. So, if you follow me here, please follow me there. For the time being there will likely be duplication here and there, but eventually the two paths will diverge in a yellow wood.

Will the world’s most popular professor create the world’s most massive online course? #mooc

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on January 23, 2013

MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin announces massive open online course through edX.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 23, 2013 – Walter Lewin, the MIT physics professor who has achieved an unparalleled following through his video lectures on the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) site, is now offering a massive open online course (MOOC).  The course, 8.02x Electricity and Magnetism, is available through edX, MIT and Harvard’s not-for-profit online learning enterprise.  Announced today and starting February 18th, the course may well become the biggest of the MOOC yet offered. Learners successfully completing the course will receive a certificate bearing Professor Lewin’s signature to recognize their achievement.

In the past two years, MOOCs have been putting up impressive numbers.  The first MOOC offered by MIT, 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, enrolled more than 150,000 learners, and other edX courses have been attracting learners numbering in the tens of thousands.  Millions worldwide have taken free massive open online classes through edX and other providers.

But these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers associated with Professor Lewin’s online course materials published through MIT OpenCourseWare:

  • Professor Lewin’s courses—including 8.01 Classical Mechanics, 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism and 8.03 Vibrations and Waves—have been visited more than 8 million times on OCW
  • The video lectures for these courses have been viewed more than 11.4 million times on YouTube
  • The first lecture for 8.01 has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube
  • Translations of Professor Lewin’s courses in Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Turkish and Thai have been accessed by hundreds of thousands of learners

The extent of Professor Lewin’s global recognition through OCW has the potential to attract an enormous number of learners to his edX course.

Professor Lewin’s course, however, has more to offer than just size.  His lectures are recognized worldwide for their quality and clarity, and approach the material with MIT-level rigor.  Learners taking the course will get a taste of what it’s like to attend a first-year physics class at MIT, complete with assessments similar to those MIT students receive. The class offers the opportunity for the millions who have gained a new appreciation of Physics through Professor Lewin’s lectures to test that understanding using the latest online learning tools, and to receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.

Prerequisite courses for 8.02x include 8.01 Classical Mechanics and 18.01 Single Variable Calculus, both of which are available for independent study on the OCW site in the unique OCW Scholar format.  OCW Scholar courses provide MIT course materials in a self-guided format that can be accessed at any time, but do not include instructor support or recognition for completion.

In addition to Professor Lewin’s class, MIT has announced another new course, The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo, to be offered through edX; Introduction to Computer Science and Programming and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, both offered in 2012, are again available in 2013.

About Professor Walter Lewin

A native of The Netherlands, Professor Walter H. G. Lewin received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Delft (1965). In 1966, he came to MIT as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Physics and was invited to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor later that same year. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics in 1968 and to full Professor in 1974. Professor Lewin’s honors and awards include the NASA Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1978), twice recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Award (1984 and 1991), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), MIT’s Science Council Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1984) and the W. Buechner Teaching Prize of the MIT Department of Physics (1988). In 1997, he was the recipient of a NASA Group Achievement Award for the Discovery of the Bursting Pulsar.  He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (elected 1993), Fellow of the American Physical Society.

About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,150 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.

Second Offering of Python Mechanical MOOC Course to Begin November 26th #mmooc

Posted in Mechanical MOOC, Open Educational Resources by scarsonmsm on November 8, 2012

Innovative model combining open education resources drew 6,000 registrants for first offering

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 8th, 2012 — In August of this year, a group of leading open education projects announced the launch of a massive open online class (MOOC) that had no instructor or central learning platform. This so-called “mechanical” MOOC combined the offerings of three leading open education projects—MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy and Codecademy—loosely linked together by an e-mail list to create a free and open course on introductory Python programming.  The initial offering of the course, managed by Peer 2 Peer University, attracted 6,000 learners from around the world. A second round of the course will begin in late November, even before the first has concluded.

Sign up for the next offering of A Gentle Introduction to Python at http://mechanicalmooc.org

The vision for the course is that the e-mail list helps participants to keep moving through the materials together, but also provides flexibility supporting the differing pace of individual learners.  ”There’s no penalty for working faster or slower than the e-mail schedule,” notes P2PU Executive Director Philipp Schimdt.  ”Since the resources are all openly available, our job is more about creating community than enforcing rigid schedules.”  The e-mail list driven model also means that new rounds of the course can be started at any time, allowing multiple cohorts of students to move through the materials and even support one another.

“There are tremendous advantages to our approach,” comments OpenStudy’s co-founder and CEO Preetha Ram.  ”The learners from the first round are now four weeks into the course.  They’ll be a tremendous resource for the learners starting in the second round.  And for students in the first round who are struggling, they have the option of dropping back to the second round.”  P2PU’s Schmidt also notes that the Mechanical MOOC model supports very rapid iteration and improvement.  ”We’re folding what we learn from the first round directly into the second round six weeks later.  We don’t have to wait for a semester to end or course to conclude.”

The Gentle Introduction to Python course combines content from MIT OpenCourseWare’s 6.189 A Gentle Introduction to Python class, with a study group supported through OpenStudy and instant feedback and practice projects from Codecademy. Learners earn badges demonstrating mastery through Codecademy and earn recognition of collaborative skills through OpenStudy’s SmartScore.

About P2PU

The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities. P2PU – learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.

About OpenStudy

OpenStudy is a social study network where students can ask questions, give help, collaborate and meet others. Founded by professors and students from Georgia Tech and Emory University, and funded by the National Science Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OpenStudy believes that students can teach other students through collaborative learning. OpenStudy believes in making the world one large study group where students can work together in a single place regardless of their school, country or background.

About Codecademy

Codecademy is the easiest way to learn to code. Since its launch in August of 2011, Codecademy has been used by millions of users in more than 100 countries. Users learn to build websites, create web applications, and to understand the fundamentals of computer science through an innovative, interactive interface. Codecademy is funded by top tier investors like Union Square Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 125 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.

Contact:

Philipp Schmidt
Executive Director
Peer 2 Peer University
philipp@p2pu.org

Higher Ed Today appearance

Posted in MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare by scarsonmsm on October 11, 2012

Had the pleasure of appearing last week on a DC cable show, Higher Ed Today, along with Candace Thille of CMU’s OLI.  Thanks, Steven!

For your viewing pleasure:

The most fun I’ve had in open ed in a long time

Posted in Mechanical MOOC, MOOC, open education by scarsonmsm on October 11, 2012

My first job out of grad school was as the coordinator of Emerson College’s adult degree program. Without a doubt, the highlight of the job was the daily contact with the amazingly motivated and persistent adult students who were overcoming tremendous challenges to complete their degrees. Their enthusiasm for learning and pride of accomplishment was absolutely infectious.

There are lots of great things about my current gig for sure, but close contact with motivated learners has not been one of them–until now. We are a few days away from the official start of our Mechanical MOOC Python course, and already I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to interact with the learners participating in the course.

The enthusiasm they show, the extent to which they are already working ahead through the material and helping each other, the Twitter stream and blog posts about the course all bring back that feeling of really helping people to do something they care about.

No doubt that OCW does this too, but my daily connection to it is abstract, often discussed in numbers. Nice to reconnect more firmly with the people.

MIT OpenCourseWare Releases Episode 1 of ChemLab Boot Camp Series

Videos follow 14 MIT freshmen through their introduction to hands-on science.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, September 18, 2012 — MIT OpenCourseWare has released the first episode of its newest open educational offering, ChemLab Boot Camp, a video series that chronicles the experiences of 14 real MIT freshmen as they get their first taste of working in MIT chemistry labs.

Each year, groups of MIT freshmen are introduced to MIT’s laboratory environment through a four-week January course called 5.301 Chemistry Laboratory Techniques. In January 2012, a film crew followed these students as they competed to complete experiments. The stakes in the class are high—students who pass the class are guaranteed a job in an MIT research lab.

Watch Episode 1 of ChemLab Boot Camp.

Ten additional episodes will be released each week through the fall, and announced on the ChemLab Boot Camp e-mail list. The 2-5 minute episodes, shot in a style that mixes the geek fun of open educational resources with the immediacy of reality TV, brings viewers closer to the experience of being an MIT student than ever before. Follow the students as they struggle to master the intricacies of working with solvents and compete to create the largest crystals. The videos are part of a broader effort funded by The Dow Chemical Company to foster interest in science and engineering careers.

“Despite the critical need for more and more people trained in chemistry and chemical engineering, the fields have not been as attractive as they should be,” said MIT Professor John Essigmann in commenting on the inspiration for the series. “Dow and MIT have mobilized our collective resources to try to show high school and college students what it is like to be a chemist. We hope to show the human side of our field and to inspire young people to want to become the next generation of chemists.”

The MIT-Dow Outreach Fund is designed to develop and support the science and engineering careers of underrepresented minorities and women. A five-year, $2 million commitment from The Dow Chemical Company, the fund supports the advancement of the shared goals of both Dow and MIT to support science education throughout the entire pipeline. The establishment of this Outreach Program comes as MIT celebrates its 150th anniversary.

About Dow

Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow’s diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2011, Dow had annual sales of $60 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 197 sites in 36 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.

About Highlights for High School

Highlights for High School organizes more than 70 introductory level courses from the OCW site, and indexes over 2,700 individual resources to the AP curricula for calculus, chemistry, physics and biology, helping United States AP students and educators to find resources quickly. Highlights also includes dozens of demonstrations, competitions and other activities from MIT classes that show how fun and challenging science and technology subjects can be, inspiring the next generation of US engineers and scientists.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 100 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.

Contact:

Christine Welch
Echo Media
(714) 573-0899 ext. 225
Christine@echomediapr.com

Testing out the Mechanical MOOC – the unplatform

Posted in Mechanical MOOC, MIT OpenCourseWare, MOOC, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare, Video by scarsonmsm on September 12, 2012

I’m working with a group of testers to run through the initial draft of the course sequence for the upcoming Mechanical MOOC Intro to Python course, and I have to say, I am really loving the unplatform aspects of it.  I live in one of the more wired cities in the US, and I still spend a fair amount of my time outside of WiFi range.  I tried to complete the Udacity Stats course this summer, but one of the challenges was that I always had to be connected. My biggest blocks of free time are during my train commute, when theoretically I have wireless service (from AT&T) but practically I have at best spotty cell coverage (from AT&T).  This meant no working on the Stats course during the ride.

Because the  Mechanical MOOC depends on existing open content outside of an enforced platform, I have other options.  MIT OpenCourseWare helpfully provides a course download option, so I have the 6.189 course installed locally.  The text for the course is an open resource downloadable as a PDF.  The videos from 6.00 are available through iTunes U, so accessible offline on both my laptop and phone.   As an added bonus, OpenStudy just released a mobile interface, so I can even ask and answer questions without a WiFi connection.  Codecademy even seems to be functional on my iPhone at some level, though I doubt I’ll try to complete those lessons on that platform.

By not creating and enforcing a single platform, the Mechanical MOOC gives up the opportunity to harvest lots of tightly integrated data about the learners, but it allows us to take advantage of all the hard work that the content and community providers have put into making their environment accessible and inviting.  Hopefully this model is going to allow us to meet the learners where they live.

Excerpt from my review of Unlocking the Gates

Posted in MIT OpenCourseWare, MOOC, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare by scarsonmsm on August 27, 2012

Here’s a paragraph from my review of Taylor Walsh’s book Unlocking the Gates.  The review was published in the Continuing Higher Education Review, Vol. 76, 2012.  Walsh’s book reviews a number of the early online courseware efforts, including Fathom.com, MIT OpenCourseWare, Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative and India’s National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

What is consistent for me between these projects and the subsequent MOOCs at Stanford and MIT is that they are all in one way or another institutional answers to the question MIT president Charles Vest posed in 2000 to the committee that ultimately recommended MIT OpenCourseWare: How will the Internet change education, and what should our university do about it? That charge has echoed throughout the open-education community in the last decade as schools continue to grapple with these fundamental issues, and with the emergence of the newest generation of open online offerings, MOOCs, these questions take on increasing urgency.

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