online course

WikiPremed makes money by giving away MCAT course

Jane Park, March 30th, 2010

Artists have been using Creative Commons licenses in interesting ways for a while, whether it’s to encourage interesting adaptations of their work or to help boost album sales. But it’s not only the visual artists and musicians diversifying the use of CC licenses—open education initiatives like Flat World Knowledge are experimenting with innovative business models by giving away digital content while charging for services added around it. WikiPremed is another one.

WikiPremed is the result of fifteen years of hard work, founded by John Wetzel, a graduate of Stanford University who has been helping “premedical students prepare for the MCAT in small group teaching through over fifty course cycles.” The site is comprehensive in scope, basically a course “in the undergraduate level general sciences,” consisting of textbooks, flash cards, test questions, images, and more that a premed student would need to prepare for the MCAT. All materials are available for free under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which means you can translate, improve, and republish it as long as you share alike.

What’s more interesting is that the site is sustaining itself by giving away digital content for free and charging for print materials, such as its Physics flashcards and print versions of its books. There is also an ask for a one-time $25 donation that then gives students an Organic Mechanisms Pocketbook and Advanced Physiology Crosssword Puzzle Book in return as a thank you. From Glyn Moody’s short interview of John Wetzel (which got picked up by techdirt),

“Students need printed study materials, and they get sick of the computer, so I definitely think there is room for creative commons educational content supported by print publications. I think there is an ethic to not holding content hostage to purchases, but I think there are commercial advantages to the open model as well. I don’t doubt that the average customer at WikiPremed has 1000 page views before purchasing anything.

I am sure that if there were registration walls and missing chapters I would have fewer customers.

I’m not getting rich or anything, at this point, but it is working.”

If you’re interested, you can help contribute to the WikiPremed case study.

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Mozilla and CC to teach online seminar on open education

Jane Park, March 17th, 2009

ccLearn is collaborating with the Peer 2 Peer University and Mozilla to teach practical open education skills to educators and anyone else who is interested. From the announcement on the course wiki:

“This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment practices. Participants will share project ideas with a community of peers, work on individual projects, and get feedback from experienced mentors. We will also take a close look at some of the most innovative examples of open education projects, and speak to the people who designed them, including:

  • The Open Source Software courses at Seneca College;
  • David Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education;
  • The open blog infrastructure at Mary Washington University; etc.
  • The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all three), but don’t need to be experts.

    Interested in participating? Head over to the course wiki, and submit your project idea!

    Course outline: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse

    Sign-up page: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse/SignUp

    For questions about the course or the sign-up process, contact:

    Philipp Schmidt
    Peer 2 Peer University
    philipp AT peer2peeruniversity.org”

    Spaces will fill up fast, but that doesn’t prevent non-registered learners from having open and complete access to the course as it plays out. And since all Mozilla Education materials are available for reuse, redistribution, and remixing under CC BY, nothing stops users from creating a mirror wiki and developing their own projects!

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