OpenFiction [Blog]

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.

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