Online College Courses for Credit



Author: Amanda Warner

To introduce the topic of OpenCourseWare and how it relates to changing educational trends.

OpenCourseWare provides top-tier university course information for anyone for free and is available now through a number of universities all over the world.

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What is OpenCourseWare?

OpenCourseWare is the sharing of university course information and course files for the general public for free. Students need little more than an Internet connection to view lectures done by noted professors at top-tier schools.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT had been at the forefront of the OpenCourseWare movement since its introduction. Since its announcement in 2001, the university has made more than 2,000 courses available for general use. Many of the courses have been translated into other languages so that the information can be seen by a much wider audience. 

Bill Gates on OpenCourseWare

This link includes a video showing Bill Gates discuss the topic of OpenCourseWare.

What is Included in a Course?

The content of each course on an OpenCourseWare page differs due to the nature of the class and who created it. At the base level, each course contains lecture information. This can come in the form of lecture notes, videos, or even podcasts. Courses can generally be found through a topic search on the university website, and some pages (such as the one at MIT) allows users to filter what content they are looking for, such as assessments or online textbooks included in the packet.

Below is a picture of the information contained in an MIT Art History course.

Information for Instructors

Each course also contains information that can be used by instructors or professors in their own classrooms. Each class comes with a download link for all of the information contained in the course. The information can be reused through a common creative license.

This can pose a problem for classroom curriculums, however. By simply reusing courses from other instructors and institutions, professors are not able to tailor the information for their own students. The information they present may not seem as relevant to their own students.

OCW Consortium

In an effort to bring attention to OpenCourseWare and decided on the most effective way to implement it in a classroom setting, the OCW Consortium was formed. This organization brings representatives from many universities together to discuss the future of OpenCourseWare and the changes that need to be made to it as instructional multimedia changes. On their website can be found a list of the universities that offer OpenCourseWare divided by country.