Open Learning


Technology makes learning possible no matter where you are, who you are, when you are, and how poor you are.  As long as you have a desire to learn, you can find ways to learn online.  The Web opens possibilities for learners worldwide.  This is one of the best things about the use of technology in education and training.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) leads the open learning movement by launching the OpenCourseWare (OCW) in 2001.  OCW has provided free lecture notes, homework problems, exams, streaming videos, and other resources from more than 1900 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum.  These instructional/learning materials are free and openly available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Today, many colleges, universities, and organizations join the Open Course movement.  With advances in Web technologies, a world-class education is available free to anyone with a computer and internet access.  The following is a list of the great places to learn and take classes:

About Dr. Steve Yuen

I am Dr. Steve Yuen, a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi. This is my personal blog on the use of emerging technologies in teaching and learning. Hope you find this blog interesting, stimulating, and educational. Please feel free to social bookmark this page.
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10 Responses to Open Learning

  1. Jil Wright says:

    Open learning is the future! I love it. I have learned so much from information available at no cost on iTunes U and other sites. I really like Academic Earth also. I have not been to all of the sites you have listed here, so I will dive in.

    Here are a couple of links I have:

    Open Learning Initiative: http://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/

    Self Made Scholar: http://selfmadescholar.com/b/self-education-resource-list/

    OER Commons is good for teachers as well because there is a lot of content there : http://www.oercommons.org/

    I enjoy the open courses because it’s easy for me to find lectures and information about things that are not available in this area of Mississippi. I have gone through several courses on the neuroscience of learning and memory. I found most of the information on iTunes U.
    I have also learned a lot from people who have made their e-books openly available.

    I agree with you completely when you say that this is one of the best things about the use of technology in education and training. As a student and consumer, this is great, but I do question how exactly the people who do the lectures & create the courses or content actually benefit from making their information openly available. I suppose that question comes from the part of me grounded in conventional education.

    As you know well, many people spend enormous amounts of money & time becoming experts in their field or subject area. They do this not only by paying for school tuition, but also by making mistakes, learning from experiences, etc. How should experts be compensated, or the question I really have is – do you think the open learning initiative that’s taking place eventually will make teachers in a classroom obsolete?

  2. Madelon Gruich says:

    This post reminded me of an assignment we had in IT755, Dr. Yuen. We had to critique different educational Web sites and the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site was one you suggested as a good example of navigability and organization. Until that time I was not aware of the massive amount of open courseware materials available for those interested in learning without earning degrees. The sheer volume is staggering, and with technology available, more and more content is being posted daily. The links provided in this blog are a good collection of information from respected institutions. You have always said that if something is available why recreate it. Basically, the most difficult part would be finding the time to sift through the materials to determine which is more useful in certain circumstances. While respected universities and institutions should generally be trusted as to content provided on these sites, discretion must still play a part in deciding what is appropriate for use with certain age groups.

    Individuals who cannot afford a formal education or those interested in expanding knowledge about a subject in which they are interested can find limitless sources of information through the Open Course initiative. I am fairly certain that there are some educators who “hoard” their materials without thought of sharing with others, but the majority freely offers assistance and materials to anyone who requests them. As long as the author is credited with the creation of the materials, everyone benefits. The Web has become a depository of data that can easily be accessed and used.

  3. Christine Mark says:

    I enjoyed the post on Open Learning, including the links to websites operated by some of the most renowned institutions in the country. I truly think that the open learning concept will one day be the primary way education is delivered. As the current fiscal disarray in education illustrates, most states will no longer be able to keep up the maintenance and escalating payroll costs of their colleges and universities without raising either taxes (politically incorrect) or tuition (marketing incorrect). Given the rapidly increasing state of technology, both 2D as well as 3D, open learning will be one answer to the problem of crumbling infrastructure.

    I, too, visited some of these sites in my recent IT755 class and found a wealth of materials. In addition, I have explored iTunes University, a compendium of offerings by an increasingly large number of institutions. Visiting iTunes U one can take history courses from Cal-Berkeley, business courses from Stanford, and the list goes on, all at no cost. In fact my husband used to listen to Cal-Berkeley courses on his iPod while commuting from New Orleans to North Carolina in the car. Indeed, some of the best minds in academia have lectures available free to the general public, and no matriculation fees either.

    To be sure, quality is an issue even for top-tier institutions. While some Cal-Berkeley lectures are clearly recorded, others are muffled and garbled, a fact I ascribe to the fact they are probably recorded similarly, but the teachers have different voice levels and diction. Even so, most of the ones I have sampled are easily understandable.

    One day someone will start a clearing house through which open learners will be able to assemble their various courses into a valid, accepted degree program. To be sure, some sort of application and tuition program will be required, and certainly some formal evaluation mechanism, but the day is coming where open learning will be used to obtain college degrees. Universities such as Regents already act as clearinghouses for traditional courses completed at a collection of universities, so making the jump to open learning offerings will surely occur.

    Of course, what happens when every college graduate completed American History 101 and 102 from the same teacher at Cal Berkeley, American Government from Stanford, Management from the University of Pennsylvania, etc.? What seemed like a great idea could backfire and become education of the many by the few, thereby limiting the spread of differing ideas and the concentration of knowledge within a restricted number of institutions, and that would not be healthy. So, as consumers, we can certainly welcome open learning but at the same time we must remain vigilant that we do not look back one day and regret the demise of traditional education.

  4. Donna Parker says:

    The information you provided is a wealth of knowledge. You are right on target when you say that anyone with the desire to learn can do so with little effort today and that a good education can be obtained by anyone. With new technologies and especially the increased speeds of Internet services, you literally do not have to leave home for a good educational experience today. With technological advances, students have the opportunity to interact, develop relationships, use critical thinking skills, and construct new and meaningful learning without leaving home. Online learning has connected our classrooms and schools globally in a seamless fashion. Today’s schools are offering classes in so many different formats. No longer are we bound to dictated blocks of time. Students can take online classes, weekend classes, hybrid classes, etc. There is a format for everyone. The resources provided to our students are limitless and the OpenCourseWare makes resources easy to obtain.

    I have always believed that educators have a responsibility of sharing knowledge and information with each other to increase resources. We are only strengthening our fields when we share. Just having the ability to view these classes you provided is amazing. As I viewed some of these links, I was overwhelmed with the information presented and how easy it is to retrieve. The OpenCourseWare offers instructors and students a plethora of resources and information. These resources will only increase as other schools join the Open Course movement. As more contribute to the OpenCourseWare, the information and resources will continue to grow.

  5. jennstyron says:

    Hi Dr. Yuen,

    This is a great resource for those interested in Open Learning. Many of the links you provided are leaders in the open source learning initiative and provide valuable information on Open Source learning as well as content for those interested in learning.

    I think some of the learning materials provided are amazing. It is very encouraging to see so many professionals willing to provide educational materials to those who have the motivation to learn. In addition, I use these resources mainly from iTunes University (similar to Jill) for my own learning experiences. I believe not only do these lessons have essential content information, they also provide me with insight on the instructional design of open learning resources.

    One challenge I still see with online learning is the need for Internet to provide individuals with open learning resources. I know there are areas of the United States that still do not have resources for high-speed Internet connections making it difficult for them to access open learning materials. I believe though that is a challenge that can be overcome with the ability of individuals to access the Internet at their work or even through community areas such as libraries.

    In addition to the ability for learners to access learning materials, one of the challenges that I am continually faced with is faculty. Not all faculty are of this mindset but there is a large majority of faculty who are still weary of online learning and placing their content online. Many believe that this increases the risk of others plagiarizing their work. While I truly believe in open learning, I have a difficult time combating this concern. Have you encountered such challenges? How have you overcome these situations as an IT professional and an advocate for open learning?

    Great post!

  6. Kemp says:

    I have used many of these sites recently as I searched them for help with Regression Analysis. I found podcasts and links to web sites that helped immensely and supplemented the instruction I have received in the classroom.

    I believe we should share these resources with our students and even plan activities around them. It never hurts to expand their world view, and this is a forum that works for most of them.

    THanks for sharing this post.

  7. tdedeaux says:

    I haven’t really used Open CourseWare or iTunes U, but I’ve been using the Internet to learn for a long time.

    Way, way back in the early-mid 90′s, when the Internet was mostly text, and lynx was the web browser, the USENET was the big way to learn, and lots of people shared their experiences and ideas on just about any topic you wanted.

    Those have evolved into Web Forums, and, I think, was something of the forefather of Web 2.0. After all, the content that I used most on the internet was always user-generated.

    Of course, since then the WWW has exploded, and incredible amounts of information are available. The blogs of professionals can be of great help, web forums are still great places to go to get questions answered, and individual Web 1.0 websites can still be a great help (I researched a lot about square foot and container gardening before I planted my garden this year, for example).

    So I see this as something that will only grow as the number of people online grow, the ease of putting multimedia content online grows, and the amount of information in the world grows.

    The hard part will be learning to tell the good information from the bad, but using iTunes U or MIT’s OCW to find information from reputable scholars seems to be a great way to do that.

  8. Jacquelyn Johnston says:

    I love open learning because it opens up learning to almost anyone, anywhere, anytime. I have been able to find information about gifted education that I enjoyed, as I try to continue my education in that area. If I had more time, probably like the rest of us, I would take advantage of these free learning sites more often. These open learning sites could also be used by my students. As we all know, students do not learn at the same rate. Open learning is a tool that could help teachers make accommodations for students different rates of learning. I can see how they can be used at the elementary level and especially for high school students. Also. open learning sites could be used to create areas of independent study with students choosing their own area of study. I think that it is very important for students to be given choices in different areas of the curriculum for investigation. Giving students choices for study and investigations is one way that teachers can help students feel more in control of there own learning, which can result in deeper learning. I have also used open course ware to access information on videos for my class. Another positive about open learning is that it is free. Recently in a faculty meeting, administration suggested that we spend practically all of our fund raiser money to purchase United Streaming. I thought to myself, that would be such a waste when there is open course ware to take advantage of. I am not sure what was ever done or where the money went. It is very exciting, the fact that if you are interested in learning, there are endless possibilities available through open learning. Of course you need a computer, if you want to study at home. Many of my students report that they do not have computers in the home. Hopefully, this situation will improve in time so that more people will be able to enjoy and benefit from these sites.

  9. Roslyn Warren says:

    I think this is a wonderful opportunity for learners to take advantage of. It really speaks to the new movement to provide quality learning environments that are accessible to everyone. One of the reasons that Open CourseWare is growing in popularity is that it is accessible from anywhere, anyplace, at at the learner’s pace. I have not participated in Open Courseware programs, but I have participated in some online courses. I am hoping that as the bar is raised for low performing school districts then this will become an option and more providers will offer courses. Education shouldn’t be something that is unattainable. It is a neccesity to become successful. Once people really that is is not an environment that should be heavily capitalized, then we will continue to move forward and produce some of the brightest scholars regardless of socioeconomic status.

    A large group of individuals will continue to be left out if we don’t work to improve accessibility issues. One recommendation is to provide funds to at least place one computer in every child’s home and continue efforts to expand broadband in rural areas.

  10. 線上學習打開全球學習者的可能性,使人們的眼界比以前更開闊,沒有國界之分。美國麻省理工學院(MIT)的領導在2001年推出的“開放式課程網頁”。開放式課程提供了超過1900跨越麻省理工學院的全部課程的課程免費講義,這些教學材料都是免費的,公開提供給任何人,在世界任何地方。
    反觀國內的開放式線上學習,仍待各界的關注與努力,畢竟,台灣的學習國情不同於國外,應該努力促成屬於本國的學習課程,以免在[文化創意]被殖民之外,甚至[數位學習]也被殖民了。

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