Open-source course management systems are free educational software that are maintained by users who implement, even modify, and ultimately support their system to meet local, specific needs” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 162). I was unaware that open source courseware existed until this week, and found it to be a fascinating look into what is in store for education technologically. I chose to take a look at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s open courseware athttp://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-714j-technologies-for-creative-learning-fall-2009/index.htm. “MIT OpenCourseWare™ (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012).
The first thing I did was take a look around the site and I got a feel for how it is used. Their About page has startling statistics including “materials from 2150 courses” and “125 million visitors” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Who knew that that many people around the world knew about the knowledge that was available with a simple online search? The History page notes that in 2002, the “pilot version goes online with 50 courses” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Where have I been? I had no idea. So what does the MIT Open CourseWare™ have to offer? Basically, anyone including students, educators, businesspeople, and self-learners around the world can access many of the MIT courses offered to students earning their degrees. There is no degree or certification attached to the use of the open courseware only the genuine desire to learn.
I chose the course entitled “Technologies for Creative Learning” in the Training and Education topic. I chose this course because it is somewhat relevant to my Instructional Design degree program. The course “includes activities with new educational technologies, reflections on learning experiences, and discussion of strategies and principles underlying the design of new tools and activities” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Tools on the courseware site include: course home, syllabus, readings, assignments, projects, related resources, and download course materials, and the CMS is designed similar to the Walden courses designed through BlackBoard ™. It is very easy to find topics and choose a course as well as navigate through the system; therefore I would determine that quite a bit of time was used in planning in order to design the course making it easily accessible to a wide range of learners.
This week’s resources offer suggestions for faculty to prepare for distance learning including:
- Traditional classroom curriculum may need to be changed to meet the needs of students including “visual presentations, engaged learners, and careful timing of presentations of information
- Plan activities that encourage interactivity at all sites
- Plan activities that allow for student group work
- Be prepared in the event technical problems occur” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012).
MIT OpenCourseWare™ meets many of these requirements. The syllabus clearly states expectations regarding participation, projects, assignments, and grading. Students are given the opportunity to work as facilitators; two or three students are selected each week and are encouraged to work closely with facilitators to ensure success. This allows students to share their views and experience and gives other students the opportunity to comment and ask questions. Students become a part of their learning. I also found very handy the Technology FAQ for those not quite so technologically savvy. These are a few of the ways designers have made the MIT OpenCourseWare™site attractive and easy to use.
In addition to students participating as facilitators in the online classroom, seven activities are given as practice in various areas of the curriculum. Scratch™ is the technology used throughout the course which was created by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch™ is defined as a “programming language learning environment enabling beginners to get results without having to learn syntactically correct writing first” (Lifelong Kindergarten Group). You can learn more about Scratch™ at http://scratch.mit.edu. There is also a final project that is to be completed throughout the course and it is encouraged for students to work in groups and use each other for testing.
Time™ Magazine listed MIT OpenCourseWare as one of the top 50 websites of 2010 stating that the site “offers many class materials for free, with lecture notes, class assignments, tests and even the audio and video of professors’ lectures” (TIME Staff, 2010).I find this site to be thoughtfully designed and easy to use. It is amazing what technology has done to make our world a smaller place, and I am sure that this educational opportunity will continue to grow and prosper.
Blackboard, Inc. (2013). About Bb. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Blackboard.com: http://www.blackboard.com/about-bb/overview.aspx
Johnson, D. B. (2012, March 2). Open CourseWare-Not a threat for online schools. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from OnlineCollegeCourses.com: http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2012/03/02/opencourseware-not-a-threat-for-online-schools/
Lifelong Kindergarten Group. (n.d.). Featured Projects. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Scratch.mit.edu: http://scratch.mit.edu/
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2012). About OCW. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from ocw.mit.edu: http://ocw.mit.edu/about/
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
TIME Staff. (2010, August 25). 50 Best Websites 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Time.com: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2012721_2012929_2012925,00.html