May 11, 2011
Given the self-directed nature of online learning, the amount of free open courseware coming to the fore is a welcome development for learners seeking alternative routes into education.
As well as iTunesU, the list of providers includes early pioneers such as MIT, Yale, Harvard and the Open University in the UK. The unique opportunities provided by The Open Educational Resources Movement OER for learning and for scaling up in terms of educational qualifications has an undoubted business component, as reflected by the level of interest in those colleges which connect their courses to workforce requirements, such as the community college system in the United States. (Surprisingly, many potential users have less interest in the elite institutions such as Harvard and MIT in the US, one of the findings which has prompted the OU, for example, to develop services that give students exactly what they want).
Leading research into open courseware by the OECD continues to highlight the transformational nature of a movement which promises to open up more choice and get beyond the big brand names of the most exclusive universities. Thus, the privilege of going on to higher education is not something that is connected to the wealthy or to the smartest or most well-equipped students but is becoming a wider social imperative.