The wide view
I’d also put forth the assignment in the previous post as an example of why opencourseware sharing ought to be going on at a wide range of schools rather than just the big elites. Ignoring for the moment the quality of the assignment, it’s worth noting that it’s not an assignment that would have been developed by an instructor at a top school teaching top students. They’d assume their students to be comfortable reading something like Orientalism, assign it to be read, and move on. It’s an assignment developed in an environment where adult students were re-entering the academic environment, and lacked confidence more than ability.
I do see a time when large numbers of schools, big and small, will have opencoursware sites, and each will have a particular sphere of influence. Bigger schools with better reputations will of course have more influence, but small schools that teach niche audiences will also be sharing educational materials uniquely tailored to their needs. I heard some people express concern that too many schools with opencoursewares would flood the web with materials of uneven quality, but even in the absence of a federated search system, I think the combination of school reputation, peer referral system such as del.icio.us and the inexorable march of Google will resolve this problem.