C21U Catalyst Workshop on Open Courseware

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[edit] Overview

Center of 21st century universities (C21U) at Georgia Tech is holding a series of catalyst workshop on innovative ideas and practices on higher education. The first workshop of this series is on Open Courseware. The goal of this event is to engage a range of university thought-leaders and invested stakeholders to define what open courseware means to Georgia Tech and to lay the groundwork for future conversations on open courseware involvements. A news report about this workshop can be found here: http://c21u.gatech.edu/break-down-barriers-and-constructing-courses-summary-c21u-unconfrence-open-courseware-georgia-tech .

This Wiki page is built to continue the discussions beyond the workshop and to create collaboration opportunities. Everyone is welcome to contribute to this Wiki page to offer their thoughts and suggestions on Open Courseware and its impact on future higher education (or on Georgia Tech).

[edit] How to define Open Courseware?

1. Open content, open design, open structure, open outcome, open approach

2. Open to whom? (GT, OCW consortium, state of Georgia, the world?)

3. What does it mean to be “open”? MIT OCW is available to everyone, but closed to interaction. Does posting slides online constitute OCW or is it something else? Is there value? Who gets the value?

4. One aspect of OCW is diluting the distinctions among author, reader, instructor, and student.


[edit] How to design Open Courseware?

1. What are the grand challenges for content developing? What resources we have and how to build a team for this?

2. Open course lives in a context. If we think modern universities as multinational corporations, what kind of students should we have in 20 years? What goals should universities fulfill? Can universities outsource teaching? These contexts help us to define open courseware.

3. How to certify credentials? What really matters (e.g. students’ abilities to integrate knowledge, creativity, etc)?

4. What are the standards of the courses? How to ensure quality?

5. How to make OCW sustainable? What is the return on investment (ROI)? What’s the business model?

6. How will disciplinary/interdisciplinary education be reconciled?

7. How does learning happen for the digital natives?

8. How to facilitate online collaboration and deliberation 8.1 Collaboration at different scales: Individual/groups/disciplines/schools/university/external institutions/state/national/international

9. Faculty should collaborate to develop strong courses


 Content design

1. How to redesign modules/units of learning?

2. How would we put the courses together? What are we teaching? Do they live interdependently and discreetly?

3. Can we use a problem-oriented approach in learning? (vs. a disciplines-based approach)

4. Can open courseware be run by students? Will “teach the teachers” work?

5. What about student-developed media content?


Platform to use:

1. What platforms to develop ocw? How to help faculty to use them?

2. We would need to decide what hardware, software and delivery content (ie itunes U etc) we would use. These have associated cost.

3. Evaluating platforms from usability and accessibility
3.1 mobile accessibility is important for students.

4. Can we use social network platforms to build learning community? How to create new style meeting spaces? Can blog be uase as a way of opening up seminars?
5. Simulations as a supplement/replacement for physical laboratory experiments

6. Cloud-computing based open courseware that uses globally distributed resources

7. Cross platform open standards based delivery is essential for broad uptake of content (e.g. streaming media vs flash, Silverlight, vs html5)


[edit] How to use Open Courseware?

1. What kind of new classroom configuration shall we investigate together with OCW? In a classic classroom, the instructor delivers lectures. In a new classroom, the instructor can be a facilitator for student-driven discussions

2. Is OCW going to replace the current learning materials or only serve as supplements?

3. OCW is interactive, it should create a 2 way channel that would improve classes at GT by creating a feedback loop for everyone.

4. When using OCW, how are students evaluated? The value of a University is that they provide quality control.

5. Is there value in the traditional classroom? There is something beneficial about having a person there. Kids want socialization and “just in time” learning. As a professor, what would I do if I knew every student had read the chapter using OCW?


[edit] How much does Open Courseware cost?

1. What’s the cost of OCW content developing? How much does it cost to video taping a lecture and to upload it online?

2. What’s the cost of ocw quality control?

3. Exploring new cost structures: Would the university then offer two kinds of tuition: One reliant on OCW and one not? Which would be cheaper?

4. Is OCW a new way to improve name recognition -> recruiting -> profit?

5. We need a new business model for open courseware

6. Who’s paying for OCW?


[edit] What barriers must be reduced?

1. Stakeholders:

1.1. How would students/parents perceive the new online learning environment? Can they accept the new changes?


2. Legal

2.1. Shall we ask each individual faculty member to use creative commons licenses  (http://creativecommons.org/about) for OCW or shall we build a team of legal professionals to handle legal issues?

2.2 Vetting OCW content: What kind of institute policies shall we develop to support a sustainable OCW effort & to ensure the quality of OCW?

2.3. If we use current platforms we must look at terms and conditions

2.4. Other Legal issues: copyright, privacy, data retention


3. Barriers to collaboration:

Insterpersonal/ Institutional/Space/ Time/language

[edit] What does OCW mean for Georgia Tech?

1. The motivation for embarking in OCW must be clear before we move forward on it. What GT needs to not do is investing in OCW without knowing why.

1.1 . In the future Universities may disappear or radically change. Will there be a time when Universities will be obsolete. Universities like GT operate under the assumption that they will be around forever, but that may not be the case.

1.2. Professors should do only what professors can do. If professors weren’t obligated to teach “core” curriculum, they would be freed up to what they are best at.

1.3 Why should I have to give a lecture when everyone is already doing it. There is certainly more than one way to teach a class, but why can’t we just have the top 5, 10, 50, etc.


2.Should GT join the open courseware consortium? Does it help us? Is it just good publicity?

3. Do we use open courseware or invent our own?
Maybe then we can jump ahead and “fill in” on what’s going on.

4. Can we become the OCW source for engineering?

[edit] Next Steps & Current Updates

Moving forward, C21U will first be in touch with faculty who are interested in developing open courseware, or who already have lecture materials that they would like to post online. We believe that by establishing successful examples of OCW right here at Georgia Tech, we can draw more people's attention on our OCW movement and collect empirical data to learn the effectiveness of new ways of learning triggered by the adoption of OCW. We are currently in touch with those who have demonstrated interest in this first step during the workshop. We will post our meeting updates here. If you want to get involved interested, please also feel free to contact us at hua.ai@cc.gatech.edu. 

[edit] [Related Topics] A possible content: Software for online collaboration

I am responsible in my department to approve transfer credit for philosophy courses. Recently, there is an increase of online classes for which students want transfer credit. The biggest problem that I have with online classes is that there is often no documentation of any student participation in class discussions. All the classes we are offering at Georgia Tech have a 50% discussion component, so we consider participation important.


In my field, there is a strong focus on understanding and developing arguments and argumentations. For this reason, I developed an interactive and web-based argument visualization software which I am using in my classes to support and structure collaboration among small groups of students who are working autonomously on projects over several weeks. In an Engineering Ethics class, for example, 9 groups of 4 students reconstructed the argumentations of different positions on genetically modified food, provided as journal articles, in the form of argument maps and presented these maps in class. As a collaborative online tool, the software can easily be used in online classes as well. Using additional tools like Skype, students can collaborate online on an argument mapping project, and the results--including the amount of participation by individual students--can easily be evaluated and graded.


The tool is called AGORA-net: Participate - Deliberate! It can be used for free at http://agora.gatech.edu/. It is still in development. It is licensed under an open source license.


I would be interested in similar tools, and in the development of Open CourseWare in which tools like this could be implemented. (michael.hoffmann@pubpolicy.gatech.edu)

[edit] [Related Topics] Student-developed video as an assessment tool in the traditional (face-to-face) classroom

Overview: The objective of this study is to determine the ways in which student led video can be used to positively impact learning in the face-to-face classroom. The production of videos was integrated into several courses (credit and non-credit) at Georgia Tech with varying levels of associated incentive. Students were encouraged to compose videos demonstrating their knowledge by completing problem sets and/or by explaining concepts to an imagined audience. Future work hopes to use this idea in more classes at Georgia Tech and to increase the “weight” of the videos by incorporating them more significantly into the course grading.


1. Where do we Play?
Are some courses more geared toward this idea than others?
Who would take the time to view these videos?
Does this idea actually leverage student affinity for social networking outlets?
Are Prensky’s notions of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants important considerations in teaching today’s Georgia Tech students? http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf


2. How do we win?
How will the videos’ impact be accurately measured?
What impact (if any) will there be on students viewing the videos?
To what extent will varied perspectives allow for “new” learning?
How can the posting of comments/annotations be valuable?
Is there value in the presentation of videos by students of different nationality, race, gender, etc.?
To what extent can videos represent an actual articulation of concept understanding?
How can this method of assessment be used to reduce inappropriate collaboration?
Would students actually use the pause, rewind, annotation, comment, etc. features made available via the video interface?


3. How much does it cost?
What tools would be necessary to incorporate this into a small/medium/large course @ Tech?
How do we support the production of videos? How can the availability of technical resources be guaranteed?
Where will the videos be stored?

4. What barrier must be reduced?
What about courses whereby even the professor is averse to (or unfamiliar with) making videos?
Are there legal issues involved in using videos of students?
Will there be students who grasp the material but feel uncomfortable about making a video and, therefore, feel unfairly treated?

By Jarrad Reddick (jreddick@gatech.edu)

[edit] [Related Topics] "Flipping" the Georgia Tech classroom

Overview: In his recently popular TED Talk (http://youtu.be/gM95HHI4gLk) , Salman Khan of the Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/) describes the idea of “flipping the classroom” where teachers/professors record lessons for their students to view outside of the classroom (through a site like YouTube) and then use class time for doing assignments. The goal of this idea is to increase student/teacher and student/student interaction. Could this be effective at an institution like Georgia Tech?

1. Where do we play?
Are some courses more geared toward this idea than others?
Does this in any way devalue in-class time or the professor-student interaction?
Does this idea leverage student affinity for social networking outlets?
Are there technologies that will let us know when, for how long, and/or how many times the students viewed the videos?
Would this idea only work with younger students, as opposed to those older, more mature, and already thinking independently about course concepts?


2. How do we win?
How can we appropriately assess whether the students actually learned by watching the videos?
What kinds of activities will take the place of lecture during in-class time?
How do the professors determine how much (if not all) of the course is to be facilitated in this fashion?


3. How much does it cost?
What production equipment/training need be made available to participating faculty?
Would there need to be a campus-wide standard for faculty-developed videos?
How would the videos be hosted? What would that cost?


4. What barrier must be reduced
What are current faculty attitudes toward this type of idea?

By Jarrad Reddick (jreddick@gatech.edu)


I flipped my classroom this semester (Intro Bio with >200 students). The initial reaction from students was negative (see my blog post 

http://jchoigt.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/taking-some-lumps-in-the-no-lecture-model/  

But I enjoy the freedom it gives me to use class time to get students to really think about the concepts and apply them to real science and real problems.

Jung Choi (jung.choi@biology.gatech.edu)


[edit] [Related Topics] To Experiment or Simulate - that is the Question?

Overview: Some use the argument that you cannot do lab courses "online" because you have no way to perform physical experiments. It is not clear that this argument holds water. For example, in my discipline, we have 3 hour laboratory sessions where students are introduced to a complex piece of equipment, given instructions on how to perform an experiment with that equipment, and expected to perform the expeiment and get meaningful results. Even if everything goes right, they are usually limited to performing a single experiment with one set of boundary control parameters and thus do not have the opportunity to perform a parametric study. If you think that assigning different boundary control parameters to different groups and then having them share results after the experiment is a work-around this, dream on. The likehood that two or more groups will get results that are internally consistent is a "rare event". So are there alternativs? Some have argued that simulation is either a great complement or perhaps even a better supplement than physical experiments and there may be some strong underlying pedagogical underpinnings that support this or at least help in the design of a course plan that balances the use of physical and simulated experiments.

1. Is simulation a good option? (a) as a complement; (b) as a supplement;

2. What are the benefits?

3. What are the drawbacks?

4. Are there scenarios where it works better/worse?

5. Apart from the educational experience, are there other considerations?

6. Can simulation systems help avoid both initial equipment costs as well as help ensure that students have access to the latest versions of test systems?

By David Frost (david.frost@ce.gatech.edu)


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