Unlocking the Gates

Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses

TAYLOR WALSH
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7rgrb
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  • Book Info
    Unlocking the Gates
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade, a small revolution has taken place at some of the world's leading universities, as they have started to provide free access to undergraduate course materials--including syllabi, assignments, and lectures--to anyone with an Internet connection. Yale offers high-quality audio and video recordings of a careful selection of popular lectures, MIT supplies digital materials for nearly all of its courses, Carnegie Mellon boasts a purpose-built interactive learning environment, and some of the most selective universities in India have created a vast body of online content in order to reach more of the country's exploding student population. Although they don't offer online credit or degrees, efforts like these are beginning to open up elite institutions--and may foreshadow significant changes in the way all universities approach teaching and learning.Unlocking the Gatesis one of the first books to examine this important development.

    Drawing on a wide range of sources, including extensive interviews with university leaders, Taylor Walsh traces the evolution of these online courseware projects and considers the impact they may have, both inside elite universities and beyond. As economic constraints and concerns over access demand more efficient and creative teaching models, these early initiatives may lead to more substantial innovations in how education is delivered and consumed--even at the best institutions.Unlocking the Gatestells an important story about this form of online learning--and what it might mean for the future of higher education.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3857-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    William G. Bowen

    The seven case studies of “online courseware” initiatives presented inUnlocking the Gatesare instructive in a number of ways. At the most basic level, the rich detail provided by Taylor Walsh (on the basis of numerous interviews she conducted with the key participants, as well as her close examination of memos, reports, reviews, and other written materials) allows the reader to understand the thinking that went into the Fathom and AllLearn experiments, MIT’s bold creation of OpenCourseWare (OCW), Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI), Open Yale Courses (OYC), webcast.berkeley, and India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). Considered...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
  5. 1 INTRODUCTION: CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND
    (pp. 1-22)

    The term “online courseware”—used throughout this book to refer to initiatives in which traditional degree-granting institutions convert course materials, originally designed for their own undergraduates, into non-credit-bearing online versions for the general public—is perhaps best defined in relation to better-established forms of university teaching: traditional undergraduate education and credit-bearing distance education.

    The traditional undergraduate experience, at the core of modern higher education, can be divided into pedagogical and residential components. The basic unit of the pedagogical component is the course, which is taught in person to enrolled students in lecture or seminar format and is supplemented by features...

  6. 2 EARLY EXPERIMENTS: FATHOM AND ALLLEARN
    (pp. 23-56)

    In the late 1990s, leaders in higher education—as in many sectors of the economy—were deeply interested in the internet’s power to fundamentally transform all aspects of doing business. Universities were eager to harness the networked environment to their advantage, and were particularly intrigued by the internet’s potential to transform education. Fathom, an online effort led by Columbia University, and AllLearn, a concurrent initiative of Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale, were two of a group of similar projects conceived in the late 1990s and launched around 2000, including California Virtual University, eCornell, NYUonline, UNext, and Virtual Temple.¹ Speculation was...

  7. 3 FREE AND COMPREHENSIVE: MIT’S OPENCOURSEWARE
    (pp. 57-88)

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) project, launched in 2001, set the standard for open-access online course materials as the first initiative of its kind. In what continues to be the highest-profile project in this field, MIT pledged to offer freely available web-based versions of syllabi, lecture notes, reading lists, assignments, and other materials for virtually all of its courses. OCW thus constituted a major institutional commitment to transparency, providing, in the words of former Provost Robert Brown, “a window into MIT on a very fundamental level”—its classrooms.¹

    Though the committee that initiated OCW did not set out...

  8. 4 DIGITAL PEDAGOGY: CARNEGIE MELLON’S OPEN LEARNING INITIATIVE
    (pp. 89-121)

    The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) represents Carnegie Mellon University’s distinctive approach to open online education. The project’s first grant proposal to the Hewlett Foundation opens by stating an ambitious premise: “Carnegie Mellon is working to help the World Wide Web make good on its promise of vastly accessible and highly effective online education.”¹ Building on Carnegie Mellon’s past experiments with the use of information technology to improve educational efficiency and effectiveness, the initiative’s 14 introductory courses provide users with self-contained rich online environments that profess to guide users—with the aid of interactive examples, embedded assessments, virtual labs, and constant...

  9. 5 QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: OPEN YALE COURSES
    (pp. 122-149)

    Launched in 2007, Open Yale Courses (OYC) is Yale University’s contribution to the open online courseware space. As of this writing, OYC offers 25 introductory-level courses, carefully selected to include some of Yale’s most popular subjects and faculty members.

    Professional-quality lecture videos are the cornerstone of OYC’s offerings. Recorded live in the classroom with a videographer following the action, the videos attempt to faithfully capture the Yale student experience for the home user, enabling non-enrolled students to “audit” Yale courses virtually.¹ Reflecting the principle of quality over quantity, OYC provides a small number of courses that seek to embody the...

  10. 6 A GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE: WEBCAST.BERKELEY
    (pp. 150-177)

    When UC Berkeley professor Lawrence A. Rowe began webcasting his courses in the 1990s, his intention was not to create a university-wide digital dissemination effort. But what began as a proof-of-concept for an individual professor’s research interests in internet video has since evolved into webcast.berkeley, a campus-based initiative offering audio or video recordings of nearly 550 courses by the spring of 2010.

    Berkeley has undertaken the webcast initiative almost entirely without the aid of external funding from foundations or other partners. The initiative has a tight budget and small staff but strong ambitions to achieve scale, resulting in a production...

  11. 7 CLOSING THE GAP IN INDIA: THE NATIONAL PROGRAMME ON TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING
    (pp. 178-205)

    India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a large-scale, freely available online educational effort, the product of a partnership between government and higher education with a mandate to serve the nation. Launched with funding from the Indian government and executed by seven of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), NPTEL responds to a specific problem in Indian higher education: the widening gap in quality and resources between top universities like the IITs and the remainder of the country’s engineering education system.¹

    NPTEL was conceived in 1999, and funding for the...

  12. 8 CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 206-246)

    Online courseware is a sign that the changes technology has wrought across every sector of society have begun to penetrate even the most elite universities. While the initiatives profiled here are ancillary to these universities’ core instructional activities, online courseware is a young and evolving field, and these initiatives may be the first inklings of greater changes to come. This chapter, organized thematically to highlight key findings, takes stock of lessons learned to date from the projects discussed here. The subsequent epilogue takes a more speculative view of the possibilities these initiatives might hold for the higher education sector as...

  13. EPILOGUE: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
    (pp. 247-260)

    The previous chapter analyzes various dimensions of online courseware projects in their current forms. But in this evolving field, the terrain is shifting rapidly. With the sustainability of online courseware initiatives in question and evidence of their impact encouraging but inconclusive, it will be critical to demonstrate the concrete value that projects like these can provide—either within their parent institutions or elsewhere in the higher-education sector. University leaders contemplating new courseware investments must not only consider their peers’ experiences to date, but also think strategically about the transformative opportunities that online instruction might hold for their institutions in the...

  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 261-276)
  15. LIST OF INTERVIEWS
    (pp. 277-280)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 281-296)