OpenFiction [Blog]

Playing at the margins in open education

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 31, 2008

David Wiley recently articulated again a model I’ve heard elsewhere in the OCW community and (as David mentions) in the Cape Town Declaration. This model identifies three elements of open education: open content, open learning support, and open credentialing.

Before the digital age, these three components had been not only closed, but also generally tightly integrated. The key insight of OCW was that in a digital age, it was possible to disaggregate content and make it widely available without harming the integrated experience. Others in the open educational field are exploring the disaggregation of the other two components.

This is probably not that new a model, all things considered, but what interests me in this is not the components themselves, but the margins between them. As our project and the OCW effort overall has picked up, we’ve seen increasing numbers of attempts by other projects, companies and individuals to “plug into” OCW content in various ways to connect the content to credentialing or learning support.

Many of these don’t work because the models just don’t draw usage, or they attempt to leverage institutional reputation rather than content, or (occasionally) are commercial uses inappropriate to the intent of the authors in sharing the content. But increasingly, I’ve been seeing models emerging that do work, and these interfaces between the silos of open education are of great interest to me. It’s an incredibly complicated and context-specific undertaking, but I do think that appropriate and effective interfaces between content, learning support and credentialing (some open, some not) will continue to emerge, and this will be one path through which open projects will begin to leverage one another.

Education in America

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 17, 2008

More OpenCourseWalter

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 11, 2008

This is a great piece in Yahoo! News. As always, Walter is one of our best ambassadors.

OER can make for strange bedfellows

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 10, 2008

Even I am a little surprised by this one:


MIT, Elsevier Offer Free Content From More Than 2,000 Journals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Mar. 7, 2008 – In a move to encourage open education, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) and Elsevier have agreed to make available figures and text selections from any of Elsevier’s more than 2,000 journal titles for use on OCW.

Of course it’s not the full text of the articles, but it makes available a lot of content that was heretofore unpublishable for us and it shows Elsevier is giving serious thought to access issues.

OCW cited by MIT President in response to Senate Finance Committtee

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 6, 2008

While MIT is already well-positioned to respond to the recent concerns of the Senate Finance Committee regarding endowment and student financial aid because of consistent and thoughtful polices in the past decades, it was nice to see that OCW was cited in the response by President Hockfield as an important element of MIT’s value to the nation:

Open access, free to the world: MIT OpenCourseWare

Yet, despite these contributions to the nation and the world, we are keenly aware that we can enroll only a tiny fraction of the students who could benefit from an MIT education. In response, our faculty developed a pioneering initiative that we call OpenCourseWare (OCW). Through OCW, we make the course materials for virtually all the 1,800 courses in our curriculum available online, free, to anyone in the world. Each month, OCW receives about 1.8 million visits. Bill Gates recently held up OCW as “an exciting example of how technology can make great educational materials scale.”

Educators, students, and independent learners around the globe often send us e‑mail describing how OCW has enriched their teaching or changed their lives. One young man in rural Maryland offered this assessment:

“I am a high school student with little opportunity to learn of subjects outside of mathematics and English. Your website has contributed hundreds of hours to my education in Physics as well as Biology. Discovering and utilizing MIT’s OpenCourseWare site was like finding $40,000 sitting on a park bench.