Identifying the Strengths and Concerns of OpenCourseware Design: An Exploratory Study

Identifying the Strengths and Concerns of OpenCourseware Design: An Exploratory Study

Chia-Yu Chang (Graduate Institution of Vocational and Technological Education, National Taipei University of Technology, Taipei, Taiwan) and Huang-Yao Hong (Department of Education, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/ijopcd.2014010102
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Abstract

This qualitative, exploratory study investigated the design strengths and concerns of OpenCourseware (OCW) for higher education based on user experience, using the translated Chinese website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology OCW as a venue for exploration (http://www.myoops.org/twocw/mit/index.htm). Forty-two college students, professors, and e-learning experts in Taiwan were recruited to assess the usefulness of the OCW for learning and teaching on this website. Semi-structured, hour-long interviews were conducted. Fourteen factors – including nine strengths and five concerns – that influence the degree of effectiveness of the design and implementation of OCW were identified and discussed with reference to three major design aspects (technological, curricular, and pedagogical). The implications for better design and use of OCW as an open educational resource (OER) were discussed.
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Introduction

Perhaps the most important effect of the Internet on education so far has been the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, which has provided free access to a wide range of courses and educational materials (Brown & Adler, 2008; Johnstone, 2005). This movement began in 2002 when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) initiated its OpenCourseware (OCW) initiative (Abelson, 2007). Since then, the success of the initiative has motivated many institutions to develop their own OCW (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007). The importance of OCW for social and educational progress is evident mainly because of its potential value for democratizing knowledge and free education for more people. Yet, while OCW provides individuals with convenient access to information and knowledge, the realization of its full potential for advancing education and knowledge remains to be studied. The extent to which the design of OCW may promote or inhibit its effective educational use by people from different cultural backgrounds is especially unclear.

To address this question, this investigation examines the effectiveness of OCW as an learning and teaching tool in higher education from the experience of Taiwanese users, using the translated Chinese website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OCW as a case for study (http://www.myoops.org/twocw/mit/index.htm). In the following pages, we first consider two different design perspectives (conventional vs. contemporary) and then review the development and use of MIT’s OCW. Next, we introduce the method employed in this study. Finally, we present our findings and discuss related implications for OCW design.

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