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LEARNING STUFF…everyday and all the time: learning, teaching, living

Open or closed? May 27, 2009

Filed under: Education — Ms.M @ 6:59 pm

Opencourseware isn’t a new idea, but I’m intrigued by it. And to be honest I’m a little confused by it as well.  Yale offers a few open courses with readings, syllabus, etc.  MIT has a large assortment in comparison, with graduate as well as undergrad courses. It seems like a dream come true. Everything is there but the actual classroom experience, contact with other students and the profs, all there for free, and not a penny spent! But why is it available is I guess what I don’t understand?

On MIT’s opencourseware site the school’s president has this to say about MIT’s decision to open up its courses to those outside of their institutional walls:

“The goal of advancing education around the world is shared by the MIT Faculty. Indeed, we owe the existence of OpenCourseWare to the foresight, dedication, and generosity of our faculty. In the year 2000, a faculty committee first proposed this bold and innovative idea, and since then, the vast majority of our faculty–over 90%–have voluntarily contributed their teaching materials for free and open publishing on OCW. MIT faculty are passionate about their teaching, and they are keen to see their work benefit global society.”

Yale’s site has this to say about their open course offerings:

“The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn…We hope the lectures and other course materials on this site will be a resource for critical thinking, creative imagination, and intellectual exploration.”

It does sound great, but it almost sounds too great. Maybe I’m being a tad cynical.  I’m curious to know how many people are actually taking advantage of these types of resources.

And it is a bit weird, to me only maybe, that an institution should on the one hand put up walls: tuition, admission requirements, etc, while on the other say that their mission/goal is to make learning available for the taking for all those who want it and open this sort of door…minus the degree credentials of course. What gives?

If these sites are usuful to you personally, then it doesn’t matter all that much though. Beats paying an arm and a leg.

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