University of California, Irvine (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 327-331
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
To date, professors and instructors have licensed for use and adaptation the course materials of some of 9000 university courses that otherwise would only be made available to matriculated students. This contribution is recognized in the large number of hits at the most prominent OpenCourseWare (OCW) websites, the testimonials written by independent learners in many countries of the world, and the bundling and reuse of these materials to jumpstart university curricula in at least several countries.

As the world seeks to extricate itself from financial and environmental crises, OCW is in a position to make a powerful contribution by increasing the velocity at which curricula travel worldwide. OCW could lower the barriers to college entry, raise the percentage of secondary students who can prepare themselves to enter into a local university, and permit more universities to deliver more and better curricula to local students.

This realizable future involves several critical steps:

1. Develop the Introductory college subjects, the most common courses taught globally, so that courses hid no assets behind library walls, and so that gaps in released OpenCourseWare are overcome with instructionally designed, customizable master copies that correspond to the common topical coverage used at thousands of universities.

2. Enhance the searchability of open assets – text, video and multimedia – using the most recent advances in machine learning, semantic web, and associated technologies. This enhanced discoverability, identified as a critical weakness is a survey of OpenCourseWare Consortium members, can be used to better organize the resources into collections that follow the lines of familiar university majors as well as new areas of critical importance in the areas of health and environment.

3. Build a global study hall that replicates the typical university organizational schema to allow widely distributed students to study after hours. Create mirror faculty lounges for those who teach these subjects using the same assets as a mechanism for faculty support, particularly when introducing new or complex subjects to universities that have not previously had the ability to offer such courses. Ultimately, matriculated students may study both face-to-face and virtually

4. Extend the model to workforce retraining. At a time of large-scale economic dislocation, countries will have to retrain large numbers of workers rapidly. The model of curriculum development and delivery set forth her opens a new opportunity for providing low-cost educational opportunities to large numbers and reorienting economies.

5. Ensure quality, localization and customization through a feedback loop from courseware users to course producers. The global study hall can also serve as the source of continual input to course producers.

The five points listed above, if adopted as conscious goals, represent a giant step for the OpenCourseWare movement, the Consortium, and millions of affiliated and nonaffiliated learners. This paper offers a vision of a future in which free university course materials from video lectures to PowerPoints and lecture notes combine with social networking technologies to create a strong educational safety net around independent learners, students, faculty and institutions.