Permalink for this paragraph 0 To understand the landscape of open education, we can arrange materials along a continuum based on curricular representation. We can also consider the extent of each offering: how rich the media and what interactive capacities are available.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Since the open education movement launched in the early 2000s, the amount of open educational content has grown. Over 3500 courses are listed in the Open Course Catalog, and OER Commons indexes 32,352 open resources. Open courseware produced by universities has been developed alongside a parallel world of open content. If we enlarge our definition of OER to include free online content, an even greater wealth of material is available through sites such as Flickr, YouTube, blogs, and iTunesU. Creative Commons licenses appear on many blogs and Flickr sites. Most of the social Web remains free of charge and accessible through a simple browser click.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Open educational resources are usually asymmetrically positioned within higher education. That is, most OER materials are produced by a small number of academic institutions. The degree and quantity of OER use is the subject of research, but the intended scope of OER consumption is global, the flipside of a small production base. Occupying one pole of this curricular continuum is MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW). The full range of that campus’ academic offerings are now represented therein, with over two thousand courses. At the other end is Open Yale Courses (OYC), which currently hosts lectures (video, audio, and text transcript) and related materials from 35 classes, with a focus on liberal arts disciplines. Occupying intermediate positions between these two poles are projects like Connexions (Rice University) or the Open Learning Initiative (OLI; Carnegie-Mellon), which cover uneven swaths of the curriculum. Whereas Connexions (which accepts contributions from the larger community) is strongest in engineering and music, OLI is skewed towards the sciences. Every campus seeking to add to open courseware ultimately makes strategic decisions about the extent of OER coverage.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 These offerings vary based on other factors, such as media resources, disciplinary engagement, and even classroom types. Some OER content appears in rich multimedia, with multiple formats and helpful redundancies (i.e., captions for voiceovers, transcript for video). OYC courses, for example, may feature well-shot and –edited video (in several sizes), audio files, text transcripts, and PDF handouts. In contrast, a Connexions item may consist of a web-based module that contains just text (although multimedia can be embedded, and the use of XML means that content can be output as PDF, ebook and other formats). Some OCW courses offer mostly PDFs. The wide variety is based on many factors, including budgets, variable media costs, licensing, and faculty choices. As with the Web itself, the form and extent of individual OER items are somewhat unpredictable.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Interactivity also varies. Materials may be static documents, such as images or text files. They may allow for some degree of media interaction, from scrubbing video content (moving the playhead back and forth) to remixing audio tracks (the primary materials for webcast.berkeley). The most sophisticated level of OER interaction comes from the OLI project. OLI represents Carnegie Mellon University’s unique contribution to the open education movement, as it not only provides free (or low-cost) access to learning materials, but also an adaptive learning environment that gathers detailed data on the learner’s progress and delivers activities and feedback based on the needs of the learner. The instructor can use this data to understand the gaps in learning and provide appropriate support.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 While statistics indicate that some open education initiatives such as MIT OCW and Connexions get used a great deal (Connexions claims 2 million users per month, whereas MIT OCW gets 1 million visitors per month and hopes for one billion over the next decade), we don’t yet have a clear sense of their impact on learning. Critics have pointed out that open courseware does not necessarily implement the insights of learning science and the best practices of online learning, including interactivity and assessment. Kevin Carey suggests that the impact of the open education movement has been limited because it is difficult to find appropriate learning resources among such abundance and because learners do not have the opportunity to acquire credit for their work (although that is beginning to change). However, we are seeing efforts to move from providing content to more systematic approaches to motivating, structuring, supporting and certifying learning. OLI brings the insights of learning science to open education, developing carefully designed courses that reflect expert knowledge, scaffold learning, provide interaction and feedback, and deliver detailed assessment data to learners, instructors, and researchers. NYU links some of its open courses with Open Study, which facilitates online study groups. Open badges provide a mechanism for students to get credit for the learning they accomplish using freely available resources. Massive open online courses support learning at a large scale by providing a structure, a curated collection of freely available resources, opportunities to come together in weekly webinars (often featuring guest experts), and aggregated content produced by learners (such as blog posts, Tweets, and online forums).
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Taylor Walsh, Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses (Princeton University Press, 2010), 71–72, http://www.ithaka.org/ithaka-s-r/research/unlockingthegates/projects-in-progress2.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Stephen R. Lerman, Shiger Miyagawa, and Anne Margulies, “OpenCourseWare: Building a Culture of Sharing,” in Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education Through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge, ed. Toru Iiyoshi and M.S. Vijay Kumar (The MIT Press, 2008), 213–227, http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11309.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Candace Thille, “Building Open Learning as a Community-Based Research Activity,” in Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education Through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge, ed. Toru Iiyoshi and M.S. Vijay Kumar (The MIT Press, 2008), 229–246, http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11309.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  “Site Statistics,” MIT OpenCourseWare, January 3, 2012, http://ocw.mit.edu/about/site-statistics/. http://ocw.mit.edu/about/media-coverage/press-releases/tenth-anniversary/.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Eric Jansson, “Open Questions on Open Courseware,” Inside Higher Ed, July 7, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2011/07/07/essay_on_unanswered_questions_about_open_courseware.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Kevin Carey, “The Quiet Revolution in Open Learning,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 15, 2011, sec. Commentary, http://chronicle.com/article/The-Quiet-Revolution-in-Open/127545.
Permalink for this paragraph 0  Audrey Watters, “OpenStudy Partners With Yale and NYU to Offer More OER Study Groups,” Hack Education, January 11, 2011, http://www.hackeducation.com/2011/01/11/openstudy-partners-with-yale-and-nyu-to-offer-more-oer-study-groups/.