OpenFiction [Blog]

For those of you in Boston…

…interested in knowing more about open education:

“Open” is transforming how we think about education in the 21st century. Perhaps you’ve heard of “open eduction” and have wondered what it’s all about. What is it? Why is it important? What does it mean for you, your institution, your institution and the world? This course will help you understand the background, history and implications of open education.

Open Education Practice and Potential is designed to introduce open education to a wide range of students from graduate students, to professionals and to teachers/faculty in K-12 and higher education.

EDUC E-107 Open Education Practice and Potential
Harvard University Extension, Spring term (4 credits)
M.S. Vijay Kumar, EdD
Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Brandon Muramatsu, MS
Senior IT Consultant, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Class times: Thursdays beginning Jan. 27, 5:30-7:30 pm.
Course tuition: noncredit and undergraduate credit $975, graduate credit $1,900.

Open education builds upon the best traditions of educational innovation and the open source movement. It is a field that foresees remarkable transformations in institutions and teaching and learning at all levels. This course explores innovations in open education from a variety of perspectives. It examines the various dimensions of open education from traditional to contemporary. It explores the micro impacts—impacts at the course, curriculum, and program levels—as well as the macro impacts, those at the university and national educational policy levels. Finally, the course examines the remarkable transformative potential of open education on individuals and institutions.

The course is interactive and seminar-style, it will that encourage active discussion and participation by all course participants. The course will be based on presentations and readings. Additionally the course will have a number of leaders in open education as guest speakers. Guest speakers will come from K-12, higher education, policy-making and the corporate sector, and they have been selected to provide a breadth of exposure to open education

Open Education Practice and Potential will be graded on a number of individual and group projects throughout the term. The class culminates in a final project in which students develop an action plan for themselves or for their organizations describing how they will explore and implement open education principles.

If you didn’t see it…

Posted in open education, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare, OpenCourseWare Consortium by scarsonmsm on December 16, 2010

…do read Marc Parry’s excellent piece on accessibility of college websites and digital course materials. While the article focuses primarily on college websites and materials used or enrolled classes, it mentions the difficulties created by non-ADA compliant open educational resources:

Inaccessibility is a major issue for the movement to post educational content free on the Internet. Hundreds of colleges have spent tens of millions of dollars producing lecture videos, notes, syllabi, and other free online materials. But Hal Plotkin, a senior policy adviser in the Education Department, says he would be surprised if more than 10 percent of these open educational resources are fully accessible. That flaw has “dramatically” held back their deployment, says Mr. Plotkin, a former community-college trustee in California.

This highlights the importance of regularly reviewing and improving accessibility efforts in your OCW publication process. OER that are not accessible are not adoptable in many circumstances.

1970 was a good year for calculus

In what has to be my runaway new favorite on the site, we’ve just released Calculus Revisited, a series of videos by MIT professor Herb Gross. Now you can learn calculus old school—literally!

OCW Zeitgeist: A year in search

Posted in Evaluation, MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare, web metrics by scarsonmsm on December 10, 2010

Apropos of the Google Zeitgeist, here’s the year in top search terms that brought people to MIT OpenCourseWare.*

  1. history of computer (24,424)
  2. mathematics (21,399)
  3. calculus (16,958)
  4. economics (12,166)
  5. differential equations (9,846
  6. linear algebra (9,516)
  7. architecture (7,975)
  8. political science (7,618)
  9. chemistry (7,382)
  10. math games (6,508)
  11. English speaking (5,790)
  12. box jellyfish (5,474)
  13. physics (5,181)
  14. biology (5,157)
  15. physical education (5,139)
  16. civil engineering (4,626)
  17. electrical engineering (3,906)
  18. anthropology (3,520)
  19. history of India (3,463)
  20. AP physics (3,342)
  21. communication skills (3,186)
  22. electricity and magnetism (3,155)
  23. math puzzles (2,982)
  24. Gilbert Strang (2,940)
  25. science and technology (2,898)
  26. wonders of the world (2,872)
  27. chemical engineering (2,843)
  28. AP calculus (2,791)
  29. multivariable calculus (2,747)
  30. physics lectures (2,624)
  31. science (2,520)
  32. Walter Lewin (2,416)
  33. history of mathematics (2,296)
  34. lighting (2,227)
  35. spiral model (2,102)
  36. high school physics (2,188)
  37. marketing management (2,082)
  38. nuclear engineering (1,947)
  39. nanotechnology (1,896)
  40. Gilbert Strang calculus (1,872)
  41. electrical projects (1,838)
  42. projects (1,818)
  43. computer science (1,791)
  44. biomedical engineering (1,790)
  45. random matrix theory (1,765)
  46. English dictionary (1,738)
  47. environmental engineering (1,734)
  48. organic chemistry (1,729)
  49. math worksheets (1,679)
  50. Walter Lewin lectures (1,676)
  51. Hindi poems (1,645)
  52. Strang calculus (1,610)
  53. materials science and engineering (1,576)
  54. math courses (1,576)
  55. street fighting mathematics (1,552)
  56. guitar (1,522)
  57. food web (1,518)
  58. electronics (1,515)
  59. calculator (1,515)
  60. human body (1,487)
  61. audio lectures (1,477)
  62. Monet (1,467)
  63. history of the internet (1,458)

MIT OpenCourseWare:  What the world is learning.

*Omitting terms with “MIT,” “OpenCourseWare,” “open course,” etc. out of the top 200

OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2011 Conference Call for Papers

Just a reminder:

May 4-6, 2011 • Cambridge, MA, USA

The OpenCourseWare Consortium invites session proposals for its 2011 global conference, Celebrating 10 Years of OpenCourseWare. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of universities and organizations committed to advancing OpenCourseWare and its impact on global education. The OpenCourseWare movement has grown significantly over the last decade; today there are 13,000 courses published by 150 universities.

We encourage submissions for sessions that highlight the impact of OpenCourseWare, summarize research, showcase best practices, discuss issues facing the community, and encourage thinking about the future of “open” learning. In keeping with the theme of the conference, we particularly welcome proposals that integrate accounts of OpenCourseWare’s evolution with next steps for the movement.


Impact of OpenCourseWare

The number and use of open courses has grown significantly in the past few years. What can we learn from what’s working? Sessions in this track might address:
· How is OCW being used? Who is using it? For what are they using it?
· What do analytics and evaluation say about OCW use?
· What are innovative forms of OCW use? How might we better promote these new forms?
· How does OCW, or open educational resources, integrate with traditional education systems?

Producing OpenCourseWare

OpenCourseWares continue to focus on making content available by putting course materials online. What are the challenges and solutions to the publication process? Sessions in this track might address:
· What have we learned from a decade of publishing OCWs? What might we do differently with OCW production?
· What have we learned about user interfaces and content navigation? How might we improve the user experience?
· How do we increase usability of OCW?
· How have OCWs used content management to support their publishing process?
· What are the on-going challenges, and possible solutions, to continued production of OCWs?

Next Generation “Open” Learning

What does the next generation of “Open” learning look like? How does OpenCourseWare evolve in this emerging ecosystem? Sessions in this track might address:
· How does OCW integrate into the ever-expanding landscape of “open” learning?
· How do open textbooks and open educational resources impact OCW?
· What are the impacts on institutional planning and administrative challenges with sustaining OCW?
· What are the impacts on and potential for next generation OCW management systems?
· How does OCW fit into Education 2.0? How are OCWs transforming and evolving to support Education 2.0?

Submissions Due: December 15, 2010 (11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time)
Acceptance Announcements: Week of January 17, 2011
Final Papers Due: February 22, 2011 (11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time)
Speaker Registration Deadline: March 15, 2011

Presentation: Presentations are traditional sessions by one or more authors that are designed to provide an in-depth examination of topic(s) of interest. Presentation proposals should include the intended audience and expected outcomes for the session.

Panel: Panels are moderated sessions of experts discussing a topic that are designed to give the audience different perspectives on that topic. Panels can be organized as a series of expert presentations, or as a more interactive roundtable discussion. Panel proposals should include the topics each panelist plans on addressing, intended audience and expected outcomes for the session.

Demonstrations/Poster Session: Demonstrations/poster sessions are designed to provide opportunities for informal discussions with colleagues about specific projects, including interactive and hands-on use. Poster/demonstration session should provide information on the project or topic that would be easy to understand in 5-15 minutes. Demonstration/poster session proposals should include the type of session and expected outcomes for the session.

Pre-conference Workshop: This year we will have a limited number of pre-conference workshops. Workshops are interactive sessions designed to address issues, tools, or topics of interest to the OpenCourseWare community. They should educate or train participants in a particular area. Examples include workshops on technology, demonstrations of OpenCourseWare tools, or processes for working with intellectual property issues. Workshop session proposals should describe the workshop content, intended audience and expected outcomes for the session. Workshop proposals should also indicate either whether the workshop is intended for 3 or 6 hours.

Submission Information

Session proposals will be submitted through the conference website, Submissionsfor the OCWC GLobal 2011 conference must include a short description (140 characters) and an extended abstract (500 words) about the proposed session. If your proposal is accepted, you will have the opportunity to submit a full paper that will be published in the conference proceedings.

Session proposals will be accepted in either English or Spanish. Proposal submissions in Spanish may also include an optional English translation (those submissions without translations will be translated by OCW Consortium stafffor review by the program committee).

All presenters are required to register for the conference.

Review Criteria

We encourage proposals for sessions that are original, engaging, significant, clear and relevant.

Original: the session explores a new idea, project or issue; discusses existing research with promise of new insight, discusses new research; or presents new ways of considering existing information
Engaging: presentation format will involve the audience in some way, or has high potential to attract conference attendees by addressing needs of the community
Significant: the session raises and discusses issues important to improving the effectiveness and/or sustainability of open education efforts, and its contents can be broadly disseminated and understood
Quality: claims are supported by sufficient data; claims draw upon relevant literature; and limitations are described honestly
Clear: the intended outcomes of the session are easily understood; the proposal is well written with a clear outline of the session
Relevant: the session addresses one or more of the themes of the conference


All submissions and presentations must be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( By submitting a proposal you agree to these terms.

Another decade of benefits piece

Here’s the next installment of the decade of benefits series:

When Megan Brewster, a recent materials sciences BS graduate of the University of Washington, arrived in Guatemala to begin volunteer work for the non-profit Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG), she immediately wished she’d brought her old textbooks with her.

Read more…

‘Cause numbers are just fun

As we approach the 10th anniversary year for MIT OpenCourseWare, I’ve been trying to pull together a few numbers to encapsulate ten years of open sharing.

One of the first projects I worked on in ’03 when I joined the team was the development of a database to track workflow and publication information. Built in Filemaker, the system (in a new iteration done by a professional developer) is still one of the workhorses of our operation, and the system of record for much of our activity. Here are a few high level numbers culled from the system:

  • 5,464 course records – We have 2013 courses on the site, so the rest are in process, archived, abandoned, or never pursued.
  • 11,266 contributor records – The Rolodex of the project—anyone who’s contributed content to the project or worked on the staff.
  • 35,826 object records – These are intellectual property “objects,” i.e. anything we need to get permission for. These don’t include the overall permissions for the course that we secure from the contributing faculty, but are the charts, graphs, illustrations—the third party materials. Note not all of these were permissioned; some were cited and removed and some were replaced with other materials.
  • 3,734 reused objects – IP objects previously cleared that reappeared in other courses. Good to see. Some of this is for new versions of the same course, but a fair amount is cross-pollenization.
  • 41,697 feedback e-mails received – 8,015 flagged as positive, 762 flagged as negative, the rest mostly inquiries.
  • 5,818 donations made to the project – We really appreciate the support and it’s an important part of our sustainability model.

More numbers, big and small as we approach the 10th anniversary!

Education, 8 cents a page

In my undergraduate days, I used to go to the West Virginia University Library and (quite illegally) copy large sections of books in the collection, feeding dime after dime into the photocopier to pay the 10 cents a page. And that’s back when a dime was a dime.

I realized today in looking at some of the OCW statistics that our project has become more cost effective than that older method of redistributing educational materials. We’ve topped 540 million page views since launch on a total investment of 40 million dollars (both round numbers).

That comes out to under 8 cents a page (and that’s just our HTML content—even more cost effective if we counted the PDFs that hold most of the content).

More fun with OpenStudy

Posted in MIT OpenCourseWare, open education, Open Educational Resources, OpenCourseWare by scarsonmsm on December 3, 2010

Our OpenStudy groups continue to grow by leaps and bounds, with the largest one closing in on 5,000 members. Now we’re trying a little tighter integration on one course, 6.00. This version places a widget in the left-hand column of the course, scrolling discussions underway on the OpenStudy site. Check it out–good fun!