The Guidelines and use of Open Course Ware (OCW) to ensure optimal learning

 There is a major movement in Higher Education around the world to make educational resources available  via publication on the  web. In some countries the term OER is used meaning Open Educational Resources. About ten years ago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology generously made its courseware available to all and used the term OpenCourseWare (OCW). Currently the MIT OCW site has the  material for a remarkable 2400 courses available online. This includes lecture notes, lectures, assignments, images, videos, project examples, examinations etc. Link  Many other universities have followed this example and become a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC). The  Consortium is currently a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware. Link An issue with OpenCourseWare is that it is bascially content. See paper for download below. It was suggested that there needs to be a place on the OCWC website where the pedagogy of OCW is discussed. Thus a Toolkit called "Relating OCW to pedagogy" has been developed and is currently being worked on by a small group. Link This Toolkit has been written for OCW Developers and those supporting learning.

We believe there is a need to support the users of OCW in order to enable them to reflect on what can be done to optimise their own learning experience using OCW content. Hence this section of the website. Just as course developers should devise activities for their students based on knowledge of how students learn i.e. Apply our Guidelines on Learning, so should you as a user of OCW organize your use of the OCW content in ways likely to enhance your own learning. i.e. Again according to the Guidelines.

Our working hypothesis is that there is a wealth of research into how we learn and that this research should inform the ways you use OCW content. Learning it by rote will not allow you to achieve your goals.

We have transformed the Guidelines into questions you need to answer to use the OCW content to maximise learning. The answers to this question will vary depending on your reason for using OCW. Use of OCW may be for:

  • Developing your career
  • Seeking a solution
  • Learning for fun

The questions are:
1.    How will you become actively engaged in your learning?
2.    How will you ensure that your experience of using OCW is both enjoyable and meaningful?
3.    How will you ensure that you have opportunities for useful reflection on what you have learned?
4.    How will you assess your prior experience and knowledge to help you select the most appropriate OCW material and direct your learning activities?
5.    How will you link your OCW learning to you own professional or personal circumstance?
6.    How will you avoid learning in isolation?
7.    How will you ensure that the OCW material you choose will most effectively support your preferred learning style?
8.    How will you make sure your chosen OCW program meets your expectations, goals and desired learning outcomes?
9.    How will you ensure that the OCW program you follow will help you acquire the attributes or behaviours that you need to successfully achieve your goals? Link
10.    How will you assess, demonstrate and get appropriate feedback on your progress?