UCI OpenChem aims to promote STEM education

UC Irvine’s new UCI OpenChem offers comprehensive chemistry curriculum to the masses.

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) has launched a free online chemistry curriculum that offers videos to students and self-learners.

To create Open Chemistry (UCI OpenChem), UC Irvine partnered with OpenCourseWare, a 10-year-old project that aims to make higher education more accessible to the masses.

Currently, UCI OpenChem provides open videos that encompass UC Irvine’s entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum, with the exception of required lab courses. In total, UCI OpenChem includes 15 quarter-length videos, some of which include graduate course information.…Read More

MIT and Harvard pour $60M into “edX” online courses

Harvard and MIT will each contribute $30 million to the new online initiative.

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have joined forces to offer free online courses in a project aimed at attracting millions of online learners around the world, the universities announced Wednesday.

Beginning this fall, a variety of courses developed by faculty at both institutions will be available online through the new $60 million partnership, known as “edX.”

“Anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can have access,” Harvard President Drew Faust said during a news conference to announce the initiative.…Read More

MIT brings video game battle to the public

MIT's simulations often bait students into 'price wars.'

Anyone with a web connection can engage in the marketplace maneuvering, the pressure-packed decision making, and the inevitable price wars that break out among business students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For four years, students in John Sterman’s business management courses have gone toe to toe in simulated business arenas, with the latest being a concocted world of video game companies looking for an edge in marketing and selling their game consoles and software.

The university announced Nov. 30 that the simulation, known as “Platform Wars,” would be freely available on the MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources (MSTIR) website, following the lead of MIT’s OpenCoursWare program, a seminal experiment in higher education’s sharing of open source material.…Read More

Open-source advocates: Academia, industry must play nice

Open-source software allows even students to contribute code.

Compromise between the Ivory Tower and industry, IT experts say, is the future of open-source technologies in higher education.

Mainstreaming open, collaborative technologies in colleges and universities will require a delicate balance of vendor involvement and experimentation among campus technology decision makers who are willing to stray from the technological old school.

Combining academic ideals with the prowess and resources of industry has become a reality already, as campus IT leaders move freely from one sector to the other—blending the best of academia and business to create software that is open for tinkering and supported with corporate capital.…Read More

MIT’s goal: Reach 1 billion with open courseware

Ninety-four percent of MIT students say they have accessed OpenCourseWare.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s free course content has reached 100 million people worldwide, and as U.S. campuses experiment with open class material to varying degrees, MIT hopes to increase OpenCourseWare’s reach to 1 billion learners by 2021.

MIT officials last month announced the goal to boost open content usage tenfold. April marked the 10th anniversary of the ambitious project to publish free material used in MIT classes on the internet.

Read more about open courseware in higher education……Read More

Open courseware on every campus by 2016?

Nine in 10 MIT undergraduates say they use open courseware.

Just as colleges and universities have adopted online classes over the past decade, students can expect free open courseware of some kind at every campus in the U.S. in the next five years, a University of California-Irvine official said during a recent forum on open courseware.

Open textbook advocates from the publishing industry, online learning organizations, and academia met at the UC Irvine campus Jan. 26 to discuss trends in free course material and how making textbooks, lectures, and other course materials available online free of charge has changed higher education.

Gary Matkin, dean of distance education and continuing learning at UC Irvine—which has one of the country’s premiere open courseware sites—predicted that open courseware would become standard at small community colleges and research universities alike.…Read More

Gates Foundation launches $20 million program to expand technology use

The initiative will fund practices that help prepare students for college completion.
The initiative will fund practices that help prepare students for college completion.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Oct. 11 announced the Next Generation Learning Challenges, a collaborative, multi-year initiative that aims to help dramatically improve college readiness and college completion in the United States through the use of technology tools and educational technology. The program will award grants to organizations and innovators to expand promising technology tools to more students, teachers, and schools. It is led by the nonprofit EDUCAUSE, which works to advance higher education through the use of information technology.

Next Generation Learning Challenges released the first of a series of requests for proposals (RFPs) on Oct. 11 to solicit funding proposals for technology applications that can improve postsecondary education. This round of funding will total up to $20 million, including grants that range from $250,000 to $750,000. Applicants with top-rated proposals will receive funds to expand their programs and demonstrate effectiveness in serving larger numbers of students. Proposals are due Nov. 19, 2010; winners are expected to be announced by March 31, 2011.

“American education has been the best in the world, but we’re falling below our own high standards of excellence for high school and college attainment,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation. We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed.”…Read More

Lawmaker to push for open online textbooks

College students pay more than $900 annually for textbooks.
College students pay more than $900 annually for textbooks.

Every semester, a few students in Steven White’s business and marketing courses ask to borrow the professor’s copy of the course textbook. They can’t afford one for themselves, White said, and their sub-par exam scores show it.

That’s why White, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor since 1998, supports a federal law that aims to lower skyrocketing college textbook costs by making students privy to a class’s book prices before they register for the course, requires publishers to disclose book prices to professors, and rids textbooks of “bundles” like CDs and access to web sites that raise prices.

The law, known as the College Textbook Affordability Act, was included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act passed by Congress in 2008. The textbook provisions—championed by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.—kicked in July 1.…Read More

New service helps students pinpoint search for open online courses

Einztein's library includes more than 2,000 complete online courses.
Einztein's library includes more than 2,000 complete online courses.

Sifting through archives of open online course material could soon become easier. A new public beta version of a web-based college course library aims to help students find open curriculum with a search function designed to narrow their hunt for video and audio lectures.

Einztein, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Monica, Calif., launched the beta version of a library with more than 2,000 complete online courses grouped into more than 30 categories, according to a May 25 company announcement.

Einztein’s library, approved of and curated by scholars and educational experts, features a search engine that helps students and educators drill down to exactly the course they’re searching for, doing the “heavy lifting of cataloguing and indexing the courses into a searchable library,” according to the announcement.…Read More

Virtual Symposium examines worldwide growth of online access

The Virtual Symposium focused partly on keeping open source technologies free.
The Virtual Symposium focused partly on keeping open-source technologies free.

Online learning, open courseware, eBooks, wikis, and many other innovative technologies have forever affected education by connecting any topic in any discipline to any learner in any place. Even individuals in remote communities now can access unlimited information free of charge, if they have an internet connection. This also provides more possibilities for international collaboration, knowledge building, and sharing of best practices.

Drexel University’s School of Education capitalized on these possibilities during its second annual live and online Virtual Symposium, in conjunction with Wainhouse Research and the World Bank Institute’s Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). This year’s Virtual Symposium built upon the theme Education for Everyone: Expanding Access Through Technology.

The symposium highlighted education technology innovations, and it examined challenges to access—for example, among poor and rural communities—and possibilities for overcoming them. A major feature of the symposium was the ability for participants to share experiences among peers in both developing and developed countries.…Read More