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Friday, October 28, 2011

OER: It's Not the Size of the File, It's How You Use It #change11

Since 2001, MIT has been sharing their course content with the world, free of charge, as part of a project known as OpenCourseWare (OCW). According to a paper called "The Creation of OpenCourseWare at MIT," available in Week 7 of Change MOOC, MIT "currently publishes content for more than 1600 subjects," including syllabi, assignments, and audio and video files.

I enjoy their "About OCW" page, which makes some crucial points, including:
  • OCW is not an MIT education.
  • OCW does not grant degrees or certificates.
  • OCW does not provide access to MIT faculty.
In other words: files, data, and course material do not an education make.

We have more information available to us than ever before. That means we need more teachers, not less. It means teachers are more important, not less. It means one-on-one time is more important, not....you guessed it....less.

It also means that teachers need to help their students navigate this flood of information. Organizing, managing, deciphering, and criticizing information are skills that need heightening in these times. The structures of information, including networks, file-sharing, feeds, and clouds, are just as important as the information itself. In this respect, I think Connectivism is a movement in the right direction.

The flood of information also means, paradoxically, that information is less important, that is, since information is cheap, readily accessible, and unstable. Acquiring information is easier and less expensive. Therefore, it is the novel expression or interpretation of information that really stands out. Creativity is a method of evolutionary survival.

I love the title of this MIT course: Remixing Shakespeare. Next semester my Intro to Literature students are going to rewrite a Shakespeare play into modern language. Doing so first requires understanding the original meaning. Bringing Shakespeare to live in the 21st century is a vital task, both for students and for Shakespeare.


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