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Why "Share" and how can OER and OCW benefit people in these difficult economic times?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I know some of the post below is somewhat obvious for many of you but the question about who benefits from open educational resources and how one benefits has come up several times during the past month or two and I have responded in similar ways each time.

Open education and open educational resources (OER) continue to explode. OpenCourseWare (OCW) from MIT is well known but just a small percent of all the course material now available for free. I talk about all of this in my upcoming World is Open book; especially in Chapters 4-6. But why would instructors or institutions offer their course content online? I was interviewed last week for the Christian Science Monitor about this (this article will likely appear in May). My reply is below.

They were also interested in why or how someone might want to use these contents; especially those who are unemployed or at risk of losing their jobs. It is a good question. Does anyone have an example of someone using OER or OCW to get a new job? Does anyone have an example of someone posting OER or OCW courses browsed or completed on his or her resume? I was asked such questions. Seems these questions will be asked more and more if the economy does not rebound. Even if it does, there will be many wanting to know the benefits of all this free and open content. Ok, again, here was part of my on...

A. Here are 10 reasons that instructors share course contents online:

1. Market their courses.

2. Make it easy for students to find course materials. It is simultaneously easy for the instructor to find things--this is a more important reason than you might realize; I use my online syllabi and course material all the time. I no longer have to go find it in a file drawer or stack somewhere. This saves a huge amount of time!

3. Allow students (and others) to replay lectures and learn it better.

4. Share instruction and pedagogical ideas with other professors and scholars.

5. Create a base of lectures that students can watch so that when they come to class, they can engage in higher level activities (it is assumed that they have watched the lectures).

6. To get feedback from others on the contents.

7. The same course might have different instructors. Posting the contents will help standardize some of it and push each other to be the best teachers they can be.

8. Experimentation and risk--keeps you fresh and excited about teaching and your profession.

9. Personal growth.

10. Someone may have asked you to share and so you did.

B. Here are 10 reasons institutions of higher learning like MIT, Notre Dame, Tufts, Utah State, and Johns Hopkins place courses and programs online:

1. They are in the business to generate, archive, and disseminate knowledge. OCW is a highly effective way to disseminate course information.

2. To help potential students find majors that might be interesting.

3. To retool and provide professional development opportunities for alumni and bring them back to campus virtually.

4. To foster sharing of teaching across the campus or campuses, and, thereby, increase standards of teaching excellence. It helps instructors reflect on their teaching practices.

5. It is a major marketing tool for the university as well as for specific departments and programs.

6. Goodwill. People in third world countries might have access to college content that would normally not be available. Nutrition, wellness, family planning, etc., courses can be made available to people from Africa or other countries who are in need of it. This is another huge reason--global education and transnational education is exploding today!

7. New partnerships and programs may arise from it.

8. People outside the university might lend feedback on the contents that are posted and perhaps even find and point out errors.

9. These courses might help the country and the world during difficult economic times like right now.

10. A world community can begin discussions about human rights to education. Universal rights. Conferences can be formed, books can be written, research can be undertaken, etc. And all this is happening, of course. There is a Declaration of Open Education first made in Cape Town in September 2007 which you can sign. Smile.

C. 10 reasons why someone might use OER and other online contents:

1. To find a university to enroll in.

2. To find a major or area of concentration that one might be interested in pursuing. In fact, open educational resources might show someone a unique intersection between contents. It is in the intersections of knowledge wherein interesting things happen.

3. To learn new or important skills before going back to college as a returning adult student.

4. Or perhaps one is worried he or she might be laid off. It is a safety valve--to be prepared just in case.

5. To receive free professional development related to one's current job without having to take time off from work. Perhaps such courses might show initiative and keep one from getting a pink slip. It could also prepare one for a new job. To be able to say that you learned some technology, leadership, or management skills online is critical. And today it is possible. But with so much available today, new skills are needed in selecting content to learn and how to go through it.

6. To network with instructors and experts in a field or domain. To get apprenticed--but you must take the initiative to contact the course instructor or designers. Exposure to a set of experts and a field can help transform one's life.

7. To create one's own learning path. Self-selected informal learning may be the norm in 10-15 years. Perhaps it already is and we do not yet realize it.

8. To learn material from instructors at leading universities whom you would never otherwise learn from since your SAT or GRE scores are not high enough. Anyone can now learn from instructors at Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT. How cool is that? Elitism is fading fast!

9. As with online learning in general, with OCW, a student is no longer confined to a set time, place, duration, etc. for learning. With OCW, she can learn at the time she wants and at any location with access. She is no longer confined to eyeball-to-eyeball or earpan-to-earpan learning. She now has options and flexibility. And she does not have to drive into a campus setting and find parking and fight traffic to do so. Convenience and flexibility in learning! And it may be the only option given work, family, money, etc. I took television courses and correspondence courses to get into graduate school. OCW might provide people with the motivation, skills, and backgrounds to prepare for degree programs.

10. To be able to look back on your life when nearing retirement (or at any time for that matter) and saying to yourself, that I was able to pursue all my learning interests. And to do so on my own time and my own terms.

D. 10 OER Types of Resources and Organizations:

1. Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons:

2. National Repository of Online Courses:

3. Skip the Tuition: 100 Free Podcasts from the Best Colleges in the World (1/28/2008):

4. 100 Best Websites for Free Adult Education:

5. 100+ Free Websites to Learn Anything about Everything (from Jane Hart in the UK):

6. I just found this one: 100 of the Weirdest Open Courseware Classes that Anyone can Take:

7. Center for Sustainable Online Learning (COSL) at Utah State University:

8. Open Educational Resources Handbook (edited by David Wiley): (free or paid);

9. Flat World Knowledge:

10. The Peer to Peer University (P2PU):;

As can be seen from the above, the world is not flat. No...the world is open. It is definitely open for learning! And I think OER and OCW can benefit almost anyone who is unemployed who has an Internet connection. They will need guidance and tutoring, however.

For more information on the open education revolution, see: Bonk, C. J. (in press for July 2009). The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

I will be getting 25 prepublication copies in the mail on Thursday. Finally! It can already be ordered online from Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 7:17 PM  
  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger Sylvia Currie said…

    Great! I'll be placing my order! And let me know if you'd like to organize a reading group discussion at SCoPE :-)

  • At 4:39 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Will do Sylvia.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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