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The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Archive for the ‘mit’ tag

Opening Education Reviewed in Science

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In an article in Science, Published on January 2, Marshall S. Smith explores the history of and promises and challenges for Open Education Resources (OER). Growing out of MIT’s decision, in 2000, to make available on the Web the core content of all its courses the movement rapidly grew with dozens of universities worldwide making their course content freely available.

In the article Smith says: “The confluence of the Web and a spirit of sharing intellectual property have fueled a worldwide movement to make knowledge and education materials open to all for use. … In 2007 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a study of the use and prevalence of OER in the developed world, concluding that ‘An apparently extraordinary trend has emerged.'” Today, more than 7,800 courses are available on the web.

Smith looks at several issues in developing an infrastructure for the OER. These include technical, social, cultural, political, legal and financial issues.

He provides examples of OER which include: Science simulations designed by C. Wieman of the University of British Columbia and University of Colorado, MIT OpenCourseWare, and the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education’s HippoCampus.

Article: Opening Education (subscription)

Written by Al Stevens

January 15th, 2009 at 5:56 pm


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Today’s New York Times has an article titled At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard. It summarizes MIT physics department courses that use Technology Enhanced Active Learning, or TEAL. The article reports that, while replacing lectures with TEAL encountered resistance, attendance in classes is up and failure rates have dropped by more than 50 percent.

A slightly more detail article is available at Teal Teaching in MIT Spectrum, Winter 2004.

The approach was spearheaded by John Belcher, who is quoted in the Spectrum article as saying that TEAL students make gains nearly double those of their counterparts in standard classes.

Course materials, photos of the classroom and interactive visualizations are at Visualizing Electricity and Magnetism at MIT.  The content is available for free used for non-profit educational purposes, as long as an acknowledgment is given to the MIT TEAL/Studio Physics Project.

Written by Al Stevens

January 13th, 2009 at 11:24 am