Saturday, September 29, 2007

OpenEdu Week 5: Comparing Six Example Open Education Projects

QUESTIONS: What do these representative open education projects have in common? What differentiates them?

All of those six open education projects contain open educational resources in different fields so that the students will have lots of choices and all the resources are available for variety of audience. The differences between the six open education projects I found are the extent of the open educational resources collected, the overall arrangement of the open course content, and the quality of the courses. Next, I will talk about each of them separately.

Open University (UK) Open Content Initiative

The course subjects of Open University are list clearly at the centre of the main webpage. Their target audiences are students who want to be rolled in college and the courses are all college level. The Open University Open Content Initiative provides Undergraduate certificates, diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate qualifications; so that, the courses actually count into credit hours which is not following the tenet of Open courseware.

Rice Connexions

On the main webpage of Rice, it doesn’t list all the course subjects, but it shows the links of subject, language, popularity, and title, author, etc. It seems like there are more content than the first website. When I checked the links, the subjects are much less than the OUOCI. Rice’s target audience is not only limited in college students. There are no credit hours in any course; they are all open content under Creative Commons License. Connexions lists each content piece by piece instead of fully distinguish them into different specific academic field. I don’t know if it will be harder to find the needed information without such details. They have done nice jobs on the language part; at least the simplified Chinese part looks good to me.

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon offers courses from only ten different study fields and in each fields, the courses offered are very limited in numbers. The quality of the courses is high because the courses can be selected for credits by college students or anyone who are willing to take those courses. I didn’t find any courses have been translated into other languages; so even they are all open courseware, they still can’t be widely used all over the world. The whole project looks very simply to me, but I don’t know how much effort they still have to put into this project.

UNESCO Open Training Platform

UNESCO has similar layout of CMOLI except it contains a lot more courses and learning materials. All of the courses are provide online and links to another websites. Their target population is much wider than just college students. The courses comes from different organizations so I think the quality of the courses are still high than providing by individuals.


MIT contains the largest course content among all the projects. MIT OCW shares free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1700 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum. It already has lots of translations done into different languages, such as Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese listed on the right top corner of the main webpage. MIT are focus on the college level learners, and lots of students worldwide already enjoy their benefit.

National Repository of Online Courses

The National Repository of Online Courses offers a lot less open courses than any other projects. Their target groups are high school and college level students. They use media, photos in slideshow presentation and text as the main instructional material format. The slideshow presentation in each topic is the main characteristic distinguishes from other projects.

In the context of open education projects, what does "quality" mean?

I think “quality” can mean different to different open education projects. For some projects such as the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative and the National Repository of Online Courses asked for feedback from the users to improve their courses so that they can satisfy the learners and meet their needs. I am wondering if that can be counted as improving the course quality. Well organized large quantity of open courseware can mean quality such as MIT OCW. The accuracy of course content is always considered as quality at least in my mind. But who will be the judge and how it can be judged are still problems. Some of the projects are still in developing, so it is hard to see what quality means to them.


David said...

The difficulty of determining quality, and who will do it, and how, was something I hoped everyone would discover during the process of reading these reports and writing their blog posts. Can you think of some innovative ways around the problems with quality?

jessie said...

I still can't think an effective way to judge the quality. I really think the quality can be accepted in different culture, level, or perspective.