For this week's application assignment, I have chosen to analyze an open course offered by Yale University. The course I chose is The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food given by Professor Kelly D. Brownell. Although this course includes all the lectures, a syllabus, and reading assignments from the original class, there is no interaction with any faculty or other students. This is strictly a "do-it-yourself" class. No assignments are submitted and the student receives no feedback or credit. As I looked through several of the courses, this appeared to be the norm for most of the free open courses.
The course consists of 23 lectures lasting approximately 75 minutes each which follows the original class schedule that met twice a week on campus. Professor Brownell is a very interesting speaker and engaging to listen to; however, the lectures were videotaped and recorded during the regular F2F class. During the videos, students are walking in and out of the room and you can hear people whispering and coughing which is somewhat distracting. The class materials can be downloaded in the form of a zip file, but there is no means of evaluating or grading the assignments. So, comparatively speaking, the student never knows where he stands.
Simonson (2003, as cited by Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek, 2009) defines distance education as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors. When you look at this definition of distance education, it is clear these classes were never planned or designed to be true distance education. Although some courses include video or audio from the lectures, most courses are quite skeletal, and are not designed for distance teaching (Haklev, 2010).
OpenCourseWare, or OCW as it is generally named, is a digital publication of high quality, university level educational material that is free and open to access via the internet. These materials are organized as courses via audio and video lectures delivered by the professors of world class universities which can be downloaded from the universities’ websites (Rathore). OCW are under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others (Hewlett Foundation).
Simonson (2005, as cited by Simonson, et. al., 2009), proposed recommended guidelines for distance delivered instruction. None of the OCW I looked at met these guidelines which include:
1. Organizational using the Unit, Module, and Topic approach to make courses with equal numbers of semester credits equivalent in terms of content coverage.
2. Assessment used for grading and measurement of learning outcomes.
3. Content using various forms of visual media and delivery systems.
4. Instruction/Teaching which complements student needs such as pace of instruction and interaction between instructors and students.
Haklev, S. (2010). Definition of open educational resources. http://reganmian.net/blog/2010/09/16/definition-of-open-educational-resources/
Hewlett Foundation. Open educational resources. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources
PSYC 123: The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food. Yale University.
Rathore, T. (2010). OpenCourseWare: Definition, resources and list of universities offering opencourseware collections. http://www.thefreeresource.com/opencourseware-definition-resources-and-list-of-universities-offering-opencourseware-collections
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.