OpenFiction [Blog]

Media goodness for OCW

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 29, 2009

The Boston Globe Magazine highlights courses from around the Consortium.

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Putting OCW’s best face forward

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 27, 2009

A don’t miss in the OCW world–the new addition to Shigeru Miyagaya and John Dower’s Visualizing Cultures class, the units on Selling Shiseido (#1 & #2), exploring the marketing of Shiseido cosmetics.  These units continue the Visualizing tradition of presenting stunning images alongside insightful cultural criticism.  Read more here.

Yes, and, well…no(t necessarily)

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 26, 2009

David Wiley’s making predictions again, this time that OCW goes away unless it supports distance learning for credit.  The essential point that OCWs must have a sustainability plan is true enough, but suggesting that for-credit online learning is the solution might ultimately be tying more sandbags to the balloon.  It’s not clear that online learning can support online learning, let alone OCW.

That being said, there are lots of emerging models for how OCW can support themselves, many of which amount to becoming embedded in the infrastructure of the publishing university.  OCWs are great marketing tools for offline as well as online courses, support teaching and research, and promote connections to alumni.   Others I think will survive successfully on philanthropic support (Universia OCW is an example that would seem to have legs in the long term).  Still others are govenment funded and mandated (Vietnam and China).

There will also clearly be some OCWs with successful ties to online learning (such as Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health).  But these schools will likely be ones that both have experience in distance learning and are well-positioned in the market to succeed at distance learning.  MIT came to the OCW concept in part because the market fundamentals in distance learning didn’t seem to favor MIT.  Those fundamentals still apply.  Will MIT OpenCourseWare need to be sustainable in 2012?  Undoubtedly.  Will it be so through distance learning?  I’m not holding my breath.

I’d be surprised if one dominant model emerges for sustaining OCW publication.  I think we are more likely to see a range of models.  As they emerge, I do agree that projects getting launched will be able to plan toward one of these models, but whether that amounts to a 1.0-to-2.0 kind of shift, I can’t say.

The tragedy of my personal commons

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 19, 2009

So for as long as I’ve had it, I’ve kept my wireless network unprotected, as my contribution to the common digital infrastructure. Never seemed to be a problem, except for the occasional car parked outside the house on what is a too-busy street for such a thing.

Two nights ago, though, Lori and I were watching the season finale of Lost, and kept having bandwidth issues.  After givign up and going to watch 30 Rock, and encountering the same issues on the NBC site, I realized the probelm had to be local.  I put a password on the wireless network, and the problem vanished.

Now I don’t know for sure, but it certainly seems as though someone was using way more than their share of free internet access.  The whole thing makes me a little sad.  Why can’t we all just get along?

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Bad news for Microsoft

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 7, 2009

As I’ve been doing surveys over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly concerned about Firefox’s ability to block popups.  We’ve been using a legacy tool called Netraker that we’d been given free use of by the Netraker company before it was bought out, but the tool was unsupported by the new owner and it was clear we were going to have to move off of it at some point.  In 07 and 08 I really didn’t see a cost-effective option that met our needs, but I knew that our Netraker popups were being blocked in particular by Firefox.  This was not so big a deal when Firefox had a small market share, but I was really concered last year as more and more people have shifted to Ff.

Turns out I was right to be concerned.  This year we used Survey Monkey, which is a nice tool at a great price, and we set up a new invite banner that runs across the top of our page instead of appearing as a popup.  The results have been eye-opening.  Consider:

  • According to our web metrics, 48% of visits in April came from Explorer and 39% from Firefox.  That the first time I’ve seen Explorer below 50%
  • In our current survey responses (in the field throughout April), 56% of educators and self learners reported using Firefox, and a whopping 67% of students did so.

This means Microsoft is losing the browser wars, especially in the demographic where they need to win the most.  I, by the way, use Firefox.

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One more big number

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 4, 2009

All OCW Consortium content for which we have traffic reporting (which does not include the thousands of courses available through the CORE site) has now revceived more than 100 million visits.  102,568,940 if you are scoring at home.

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