The Open Course Model: Collaborative Development of Online Content

R.S. Stephenson (USA)

Keywords

Webbased education, open course, open source, learning object, course materials development

Abstract

If traditional higher learning institutions are to remain competitive with commercial and for-profit alternatives, they must find economical ways to develop rich, Web based content for their courses. The "open course" ap proach (patterned after the open source movement) is the most cost-effective solution and one that takes advantage of universities' faculty rather than marginalizing them. The cornerstones of this model are: Faculty collaboration across a discipline to build rich content, Adherence to open standards wherever possible, Peer review of developed materials (for scholarly accu racy, technical soundness and pedagogical effective ness), Free distribution of the learning objects to schools and universities. The Harvey Project is an example of an open course collaboration for physiology with over 100 members in 17 countries. It has developed more than 40 highly ac claimed Web-based learning objects, mostly using Java and Macromedia Flash. It has also developed tools and paradigms to facilitate such collaborative development and simplify the use of its rich content. Other examples of open course collaborations will be mentioned.

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