MIT’s goal: Reach 1 billion with open courseware

d’Oliveira said expanding the university’s OpenCourseWare initiative would involve mobile applications for smart phones and content translations into myriad languages that aren’t yet available.

Educational technology advocates who have pushed for greater access to free course material were abuzz in January after a University of California (UC) Irvine dean said open courseware would be commonplace throughout higher education by 2016.

“Everybody’s going to have to have some open material, just as they have libraries,” said Gary Matkin, UC Irvine’s dean of distance education and continuing learning. “There’s no stopping this movement. It’s happening.”

Like Matkin, d’Oliveira said the expansion of open courseware doesn’t mean every community college and research university from coast to coast will launch a massive effort like MIT’s OpenCourseWare project.

The student recruiting potential of free online content, she said, would be a driving factor for any campus that wants to stay competitive with peer institutions.

Campus IT officials and educational technology enthusiasts have convinced administrators that open courseware “is here to stay and that it’s a basic fundamental principle,” d’Oliveria said.

Some higher-education officials might embrace open content to keep pace with more technologically progressive schools.

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