Sunday, March 20, 2011

Open introduction

There's an awful lot of uneccessary work in the world, especially in education. So many teachers preparing thousands of very similar lectures on the same subject. Universities and schools spending lots of project money to develop applications and systems that someone else has already developed. Thousands of similar videos helping new students with study skills or admission routines. I'm sure I've contributed to all this in my own way over the years but I often wonder if we could cooperate a bit more and stop thinking we have to reinvent the wheel all the time.

If we use more open educational resources we could free up enormous amounts of time that could be spent on stimulating student discussion. If we had better analysis of what our colleagues around the country/world are developing we wouldn't need to start so many projects to develop what already exists. Why not cooperate on producing a really good interactive course to introduce prospective students to university studies? That is exactly what is proposed by Dave Cormier in a recent blog post, An open university prep course - MOOC for basic skills.

His university, the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, already runs a no credit online course for prospective students explaining the main principles of university education, study skills and general advice. In this post he's looking for partners to help turn this course into a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which could be used by students of any university. Since most universities have similar courses it would seem much more rational to pool resources and work together. The best material from various universities can be used and the teaching and administrative work can be shared. Specific local information must of course be produced locally but there is an awful lot of money and time that could be saved if could just work together. As long as those savings are then channelled into financing better teaching and student facilities.

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