Why the “open” in MOOC matters
Jeff Young has a great piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed today about what he calls the “bandwidth divide” and how most MOOCs require learners to have persistent high-speed internet access. When we created the Mechanical MOOC course, we built it on existing open resources mostly because we though it was the most efficient and cost effective way to do it–by leveraging the investments already made in creating MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy and Codecademy.
We realized very quickly that a lot of additional flexibility came with leveraging these resources. Because they were from mature projects focused on openly sharing their resources and functionality, they had developed alternate modes of delivery to address bandwidth issues:
- the 6.189 course used an open textbook that was downloadable
- the 6.189 course materials (assignments, notes) themselves could be downloaded in a single zip file
- the 6.00SC videos used were downloadable from iTunes U and the Internet Archive
- OpenStudy was launching a beta mobile interface just as the course kicked off
And our learners downloaded the materials is large numbers:
Beyond that, we were able to also leverage the deep investments made in translating these open resources. The text is available in a dozen languages, and the course materials have been translated into Chinese. By building our course on open resources, we saved money and leveraged the work that these projects have already put into reaching audiences working without persistent internet or in other languages. A win-win-win.