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The OpenCourseWare movement started in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published videos of lectures online for its timms initiative. The OCW movement only took off, however, with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in October 2002. The movement was soon reinforced by the launch of similar projects at Yale, the University of Michigan, and the University of California Berkeley.
MIT's reasoning behind OCW was to "enhance human learning worldwide by the availability of a web of knowledge". MIT also stated that it would allow students (including, but not limited to its own) to become better prepared for classes so that they may be more engaged during a class. Since then, a number of universities have created OCW projects modeled after MIT's, some of which have been funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
According to the website of the OCW Consortium, an OCW project:
Ten years after the US debut of OCW, in 2012 MIT and Harvard University announced the formation of edX, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform to offer online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience at no charge. This new initiative was based on MIT's "MITx" project, announced in 2011, and extends the concepts of OCW by offering more structured formal courses to online students, including in some cases the possibility of earning academic credit or certificates based on supervised examinations. A major new feature of the edX platform is the ability for students to interact with each other and with teachers in online forums. In some cases, students will help evaluate each other's work, and may even participate in some of the teaching online.
In addition, edX is being used as an experimental research platform to support and evaluate a variety of other new concepts in online learning.
A problem is that the creation and maintenance of comprehensive OCW requires substantial initial and ongoing investments of human labor. Effective translation into other languages and cultural contexts requires even more investment by knowledgeable personnel. This is one of the reasons why English is still the dominant language, and fewer open courseware options are available in other languages. The OCW platform SlideWiki addresses these issues through a crowdsourcing approach.
This listing is roughly in the order of adoption of OCW principles.
The following are not directly affiliated with a specific university:
OpenCourseWare originally initiated by MIT and the Hewlett Foundation, began movement in China in September, 2003, when MIT and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) joined together with the Beijing Jiaotong University to organize an OpenCourseWare conference in Beijing. As a result of this conference, 12 universities petitioned the government to institute a program of OpenCourseWare in China. This group included both some of the most prestigious universities in China, as well as the Central Radio and Television University, which is China’s central open university, covering more than 2 million students.
As a result of this petition, the Chinese government approved to institute the CORE(China Open Resources for Education) to promote the OpenCourseWare in Chinese Universities, with Fun-Den Wang (the head of IETF) as chairman. The CORE is an NGO supported by Hewlett Foundation, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and other fundations. According to CORE's website, it has nearly 100 Chinese universities as members, including the most prestigious universities in China, such as Tsinghua University, Peking University and Shanghai Jiaotong University. This organization organized volunteers to translate foreign OpenCourseWare, mainly MIT OpenCourseWare into Chinese and to promote the application of OpenCourseWare in Chinese universities. At February, 2008, 347 courses had been translated into Chinese and 245 of them were used by 200 professors in courses involving a total of 8,000 students. It also tried to translate some Chinese courses into English, but the number is not too much and some are only title translated. There have also been produced 148 comparative studies comparing MIT curriculum with Chinese curriculum using the MIT OpenCourseWare material. CORE's offices are hosted within the China Central Radio and Television University, and they receive partial funding from the IETF and the Hewlett foundation. They also host annual conferences on open education, and the 2008 conference was co-located with the international OpenCourseWare Consortium conference, which brought a large amount of foreign participants.
But before the OpenCourseWare conference in Beijing and the establishment of CORE, at April 8, 2003, the Ministry of Education had published a policy to launch the China Quality Course (精品课程) program. This program accepts applications for university lectureres that wish to put their courses online, and gives grants of between $10,000 – 15,000 CAD per course that is put online, and made available free of charge to the general public (ibid.). The most prestigious award is for the “national level CQOCW”, then there is “provincial level” and “school level”. From 2003 to 2010, there have produced 3862 courses at the national level by 746 universities. According to the official website for the China Quality Course, the total number of the courses available online is more than 20,000. These typically include syllabus, course notes, overheads, assignments, and in many cases audio or video of the entire lectures. The scale of this project has also spurred a large research activity, and over 3,000 journal articles have been written in Chinese about the topic of OpenCourseWare.
The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a Government of India sponsored collaborative educational programme. By developing curriculum-based video and web courses the programme aims to enhance the quality of engineering education in India. It is being jointly carried out by 7 IITs and IISc Bangalore, and is funded by the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Government of India.
Flexilearn is a very useful open course portal. It was initiated by Indira Gandhi National Open University, and apart from providing free course materials, flexilearn also provides opportunities to enroll oneself for a course and appear for exam conducted by university and thereby get certification.
In 2002, researchers from the National Institute of Multimedia Education (NIME) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) studied the MIT OpenCourseWare, leading them to develop an OCW pilot plan with 50 courses at Tokyo Institute of Technology in September. Later, in July 2004, MIT gave a lecture about MIT OpenCourseWare at Tokyo Tech that prompted the first meeting of the Japan OCW Alliance. The meeting was held with four Japanese universities that had mainly been recruited through the efforts of MIT professor Miyagawa, and his personal contacts. In one case, the connection was the former president of the University of Tokyo being an acquintance of Charles Vest, the former president of MIT.
In 2006, the OCW International Conference was held at Kyoto University wherein the Japanese OCW Association was reorganized into the Japan OCW Consortium. At that time, Japan OCW Consortium had over 600 courses; currently they have 18 university members, including the United Nations University (JOCW, n.d.). On Japanese university campuses there are few experts in content production, which makes it difficult to get support locally, and many of the universities have had to out-source their production of OCW. In example, the University of Tokyo has had to mainly employ students to create OCW.
The motivation for joining the OCW movement seems to be to create positive change among Japanese universities, including modernizing presentation style among lecturers, as well as sharing learning material. Japanese researchers have been particularly interested in the technical aspects of OCW, for example in creating semantic search engines. There is currently a growing interest for Open Educational Resources (OER) among Japanese universities, and more universities are expected to join the consortium.
“In order to become an integral institution that contributes to OER, the JOCW Consortium needs to forge solidarity among the member universities and build a rational for OER on its own, different from that of MIT, which would support the international deployment of Japanese universities and also Japanese style e-Learning.”
In the United Arab Emirates, a discussion, led by Dr. Linzi j. Kemp, American University of Sharjah, has begun about sharing teaching and learning materials (‘open course ware’) through a community of educators and practitioners in the GCC. There is growing availability of high quality and free open access materials shared between universities e.g. MIT (USA). We are also exposed to an example of resource sharing through ‘The Open University (UK), OpenLearn’ platform. Kemp (2013) proposes that teaching and learning will be enhanced when across institutions of higher education, we work together to bring our shared knowledge into classrooms. Furthermore, when we open up this platform to include practitioners e.g. Employers, then the relationship with industry will further ensure teaching and learning is available and beneficial for a wider community.