Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Treasures in OpenCourseWare

As a valuable and innovative distance learning resource, OpenCourseWare has grown up firmly in the recent years (for more information, read another post OpenCourseWare Grows Up). Along with the development of OCW, a bunch of useful tools and resources have been provided for the users to benefit more from OCW.

For the OCW provider institutions, eduCommons, a learning management system designed specifically for OCW, is freely available now. The participating institutions can simply upload their course materials into eduCommons and have an OCW site similar to that of Utah State University. Such a LMS may take OCW into its next period.

For the users, OpenCourseWare Finder is a handy tool to browse or search for courses in specific disciplines. Some other open resources include Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, Flickr: Creative Commons, and so on. Various resources can be found on these websites, including electronic books, text, music, media, image, and animation. All the resources are free, but usually some rules apply to the usage of them, including non-commercial usage, share-alike distributing, etc. It is a good idea to check the websites for such requirements before one uses the resources.

More and more people are taking advantage of OCW. According to what I learned in a seminar on the UH main campus last Friday, the Utah State University OCW has approximately 2000 visitors per day. The number is continuingly increasing, while is still not the most among all the OCW sites. Among all these users, 48% are self-learners, 31% are students, and 15% are faculty.

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