Open courseware is a totally revolutionary educational concept, allowing people worldwide free access to online lectures, readings and learning materials provided by universities and colleges. Organised as an open digital publication, an open courseware is similar to an online course, as it includes planning materials and evaluation tools, in addition to educational content. However, these studies don’t provide certification or access to direct teacher assistance, they consist of lecture notes, course outlines, reading lists, assignments, demonstrations and students’ work.
Read below to find out more about OpenCourseWare.
How OpenCourseWare was created
The OpenCourseWare project started in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published online video lectures. The movement gained popularity with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002, followed by other major universities in the United States, such as Yale University, Utah State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California Berkeley. Soon, universities and other educational institutions worldwide have begun offering free lectures and readings. Today, students can access course and learning materials from universities from Europe, Asia, Australia at no cost.
The goal of OpenCourseWare
OpenCourseWare is a part of the Open Education Consortium, a community formed by higher education institutions and organizations committed to promote and advance open education worldwide. Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing with the advances of the latest technological advancements to create an open educational resource database, relevant to the educational and professional needs of a great variety of learners.
Classic style education is limited by class capacity of higher education institutions, so it is only available to a limited number of students. Open Education helps individuals and societies solve these challenges and open the way to a global audience that may benefit from free, high-quality educational resources.
The main mission of OpenCourseWare was to empower the entire world and to facilitate access to higher education to a number of people that either financially or for other personal reasons, could not afford to attend university classes.
These online study materials are designed for a wide range of people around the world, including high-school and college or university students, teachers and educators or adult learners. Available courses include a wide palette of subjects, from arts, psychology, history to computer science, business and engineering.
Users that want to begin their study within OpenCourseWare don’t have to register, they simply go on the website and click on the item they wish to read, listen or see. Most educational institutions integrate a flexible web interface, giving the users several options for structuring their learning methods, for instance downloading, redistributing, and remixing course materials.
Benefits of OpenCourseWare
OpenCourseWare fulfils people’s desire to learn, and offers benefits to many interested groups:
- Students can get additional information, viewpoints and materials to help them succeed.
- Workers gain valuable help, as they can learn something that will help them on the job.
- Faculty members can exchange ideas and information with peers around the world.
- Researchers share data and develop new networks.
- Teachers find improved ways to help students learn.
Materials may be translated, edited, improved, mixed together and shared. The license that covers most of the lectures and other course materials is Creative Commons' Attribution-Noncommercial-Share license. This license allows the free use or re-purposing of the course materials by others, as long as you credit the faculty as the original source and you use it for non-commercial reasons.
Education has never been more available and free to such a vast audience.
An opencourseware is often considered a tool for improving skills or the grasp of key concepts in people’s current studies. For example, high-school or college students that don’t completely understand a topic that is taught in a traditional class, can understand it properly through a webinar or a reading provided by an educational institution, member of OpenCourseWare.
Free access to education with OpenCourseWare
You could say that for the wide OpenCourseWare consortium, students and the idea of offering anyone the possibility to learn or upgrade their skills is the most important value in the current global education. Seize the unique and interesting opportunity provided by many universities worldwide, including reputed ones, to open the door to anyone who wants to access their educational learning resources! Browse through thousands of available online study materials and widen your intellectual horizons.