teacher training

Back to School: Open Courseware as a transition to college

Jane Park, September 2nd, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

One aspect of open courseware* is its draw for potential students who are deciding where to spend their parents’ or their own hard-earned dollars in obtaining a higher education. The fact is unsurprising, as we saw in 2007, with MIT OCW reporting that “One in four current MIT students who knew of OCW prior to choosing MIT [indicated] the site was a significant influence on their school choice.”

However, beyond free advertising for its school, certain open courseware programs have begun to evolve past the open licensing status of their courses. As the global learning commons of OCW is growing, so are the local learning contexts of open courseware, as more colleges realize the benefit of working with high schools in their areas to prepare, and perhaps to propel, their youth into higher education.

Last month, the University of Massachusetts Boston was awarded a $60,000 grant by the Boston Foundation, with the specific aim of better preparing Boston public high school students for college level courses. The grant will fund workshops for teachers, training them on how to use open courseware to educate their students at gradually accelerated levels. Similar to MIT OCW’s Highlights for High School initiative, these workshops promote high school teacher and student use of open educational resources.

However, I imagine it also going one step further. In providing training for teachers on the use of open educational resources (OER), teachers will not be simply accessing OCW resources on the web. They will learn how to use OER according to its license status, and realize that the commons of open educational resources is vast and global, open to be adapted, derived, and remixed with other OER on the Internet. The Boston grant would enable teachers to see open courseware as part of a larger world of open materials and communities, rather than as simply an institution.

We hope that many other universities and colleges offering OCW will follow this same trend, localizing their university’s offerings at the same time that they are globalizing them via CC licenses. Especially, initiatives like Academic Earth, a site that pools a number of OCW in high definition video, could really run with this idea of contextualization for teachers and students, educating them on the new communities that are opened to them via something as simple as the licensing status of a resource.

*Traditionally, open courseware are university or college courses that are freely accessible online, usually via an open license (the most commonly used license for OCW is CC BY-NC-SA), consisting of lectures and other multimedia, core content, supplemental materials, or tools to aid learning. Nowadays, open courseware sans an open license that allows derivatives, though free, are not considered open, as the ability to adapt the work to global and local contexts via translations and cultural references has become integral to the spirit of OCW.


A summary in Spanish:

De regreso al colegio: Open Courseware como una transición a la educación superior. http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/17411

En esta entrada Park indica como en este momento los Open Courseware (repositorios de cursos virtuales que se publican para acceso abierto en Internet, como el famoso MIT OCW http://ocw.mit.edu/) han provocado un interesante efecto de publicidad para las universidades americanas que hoy reconocen como cada vez más de los nuevos estudiantes consideran que conocer el material docente de la universidad en la que esperan estudiar ha influido en su toma de decisión y cómo este efecto ha hecho que las universidades americanas estén creando un puente entre la educación superior y media a través de los cursos en estos repositorios abiertos.

Park señala que los cursos se han convertido en material para los docentes de educación media que les permiten más y mejores recursos para preparar los estudiantes para su experiencia universitaria. Sin embargo, Park hace un llamado a la necesidad de llamar la atención y preparar a los docentes para ir más allá de la simple reutilización pasiva de materiales de los cursos y pasen a ser actores de la recreación de estos materiales localizándolos y ajustándolos a sus circunstancias particulares.

Park espera que donaciones como la de la Fundación Boston a la Universidad de Massachussets, que tiene como finalidad preparar a los graduados de la escuela para enfrentar los cursos de educación superior, sirvan de promotor para contextualizar a los docentes y estudiantes en las nuevas comunidades abiertas a ellos a través de herramientas tan sencillas como la licencia que se asocia con un recurso, de modo que puedan ver estos cursos como iniciativas de comunidades abiertas globales más allá de la institución que los hospeda.

La ruta que presenta Park puede servir de inspiración para nuestros países y sus iniciativas nacionales como inspiración para los actores del sector.

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Agrega, the New Educational Digital Object Platform

Jane Park, June 19th, 2008

Agrega, a new educational initiative promoting internet in the classroom, is a collaborative effort on the part  of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Social Politics and Sports, Red.es, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, and the Autonomous Communities and Autonomous Cities of Spain (CC.AA). Agrega is Spain’s new educational digital object platform, “which consists of a central repository and other autonomous repositories which have educational content for non-university level centres.” Its emphasis is on content creation and development for primary and secondary educators by providing a space where various digital content of Spain’s Civil Service and the private sector are joined. One way of “commonizing” the content is to catalogue it under common criteria and thereafter to share these cataloguing efforts in Agrega. This will serve to expand the pool of online educational content available to Spanish educators and students, particularly in the fields of finance education and teacher training. The website offers engaging tutorials on how to search for, download and view content on Agrega, in addition to a content catalog.

The digital educational materials in Agrega can be used and adapted according to CC-BY-NC-SA.

And also in Spanish, thanks to ccLearn intern Grace Armstrong:

Agrega, el nombre de la nuevo iniciativa española que busca promover el internet en el aula, es un esfuerzo colaborativo por parte de red.es, el Ministerio de Educación, Política Social y Deporte español, el Ministerio de Industria, Turismo y Comercio y las Comunidades y Ciudades Autonomas. Agrega es la nueva plataforma de objetos digitales educativos de España y consiste en “un repositorio central y otros de carácter autonómico de contenidos educativos para centros de nivel no universitario”. Su énfasis está en la creación y desarrollo de contenidos curriculares para profesores de la enseñanza reglada no universitaria y pretende proporcionar un espacio para juntar los varios contenidos del Servicio Civil de España y el sector privado. Una manera de “comunizar” el contenido es de catalogarlo bajo criterios comunes y después de compartir eses trabajos de organización en Agrega. Así servirá de aumentar el fondo común de contenidos educativos disponibles a profesores y alumnos, especialmente en las áreas de la educación financiera y la formación pedagógica de profesores. El sitio brinda tutoriales que muestran como buscar, bajar y ver el contenido de Agrega, ademas de un catálogo de contenidos.

Se puede usar y adaptar los materiales educativos digitales de Agrega segun los terminos de la licencia CC-BY-NC-SA.

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