Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MITx - MIT provides open courses with certificates

MITx - MIT's OCW program which will grant certificates (for a fee) for open course work - has captured people's attention. Audrey Watters notes the importance of a leader in open courses getting into provide credentials for self-selected learners. See http://hackeducation.com/2012/02/13/mitx-opens-enrollment/ Sean Andrews points out that there is a textbook for this course which is not OER, but rather a textbook by the course instructor published by Elsevier. The course description notes that relevant sections of the textbook will be made available to registered participants, but this does point to an issue with MIT's open courses. Readings have always been a problem with MIT OCW. The readings for the courses are not usually open access. Someone who wanted to work their way through the course material would need to buy books and journal articles or be affiliated with a library that could supply the works. One example: Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/music-and-theater-arts/21m-630j-black-matters-introduction-to-black-studies-fall-2009/) lists materials with a "buy at Amazon" icon. There's no reason to expect that all MIT faculty would be willing and/or able replace all readings with OER at this point, but in order to be a truly open access course, the course materials will also have to be open access. See https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/ for information about Anant Agarwal's Circuits & Electronics - the open course being offered from March - June, 2012. This statement about the textbook is included: "The course uses the textbook Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits, by Anant Agarwal and Jeffrey H. Lang. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Elsevier, July 2005. While recommended, the book is not required: relevant sections will be provided electronically as part of the online course for personal use in connection with this course only. The copyright for the book is owned by Elsevier. The book can be purchased on Amazon."

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