Study Open Education at USU!

As part of our recent application to establish a UNESCO Chair in Open Education at Utah State University, we’re creating an emphasis in Open Education in our PhD in Instructional Technology here. The emphasis is simply a sequence of electives that students will be able to choose from that will provide them with a stronger foundation in open education. I believe this will be something really special, and will help us attract even more passion and great talent into the department and the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning, as well as enrolling students from outside our department.

This new emphasis applies to *you* as well, however, since we will (of create) these courses as open educational resources that anyone and everyone will be able to use. I’m also extremely excited to say that we will also offer something like a “certificate” program for people who would like to take the courses in a more formal way (at a distance) but don’t want to enroll in the PhD program for whatever reason (I certainly can’t imagine any reasons ;)).

So my question to all of you is… if you could create a four or five course elective sequence in open education, what topics would you choose to teach? Here are some ideas for possible courses:

Introduction to Open Education
Introduces students to the history of the open education movement; important open education projects around the world; significant NGOs, Foundations, and other organizations involved in the open education movement; the writings of authors associated with open education; and legal issues related to the field. Representative readings include declarations and reports of the United Nations, UNESCO, and the OECD; overviews of the OpenCourseWare Consortium and One Laptop Per Child project, work by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; writings by Paulo Friere, John Dewey, Bekir Gur, Larry Lessig, and Katarina Tomasevski; copyright and licensing issues related to open education.

Overview of Issues in Rural Areas and the Developing World
An interdisciplinary course co-taught by several faculty (both inside and outside Utah State University). Representative topics include nutrition, literacy, agriculture, water, HIV, human trafficking, microfinance, and instructional technology. This is a service-oriented course in which student groups partner with individuals from villages or rural towns to understand specific local problems and perhaps contribute toward the creation of solutions.

Finding and Localizing Open Educational Resources
A hands-on course familiarizing students with ways of finding open educational resources and the software tools and instructional design techniques for adapting resources to meet local needs. Students will adapt and localize several increasingly complex open educational resources as part of the class. Representative topics include using Google; determining the quality of an existing open educational resource; working with HTML, video, and audio; translation; audience analysis.

Creating Open Educational Resources
A hands on course that builds on knowledge of software tools, instructional design techniques, and exemplary content taught in Finding and Localizing to teach students to build their own high quality open educational resources. Students will create and share several increasingly complex open educational resources as part of the class. Representative topics include deciding when education is an appropriate intervention, the systematic design of educational materials, technologies for sharing open educational resources with the world, and how to select an appropriate license.

What have I left out? Over-emphasized? For example, I already know I need a more international flavor to the readings in the first proposed course (I am at the Open University of Catalonia today beginning to work on this part of the problem). What kind of course would *you* want to take?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ismael May 4, 2007, 12:29 am

    Hi David,

    I don’t know whether I’m proposing a new subject or reshaping your second one. The question is that related to developing countries, I wouldn’t enter specific topics (“nutrition, literacy, agriculture, water, HIV…”) but a generic approach on how intellectual property rights (copyright and patents), research diffussion and access to research, free software and open content can have a decisive impact on developing countries (I’d let the application on a specific topic to dissertations and thesis 😉

    Just to backup my comments, I here posted some weeks ago “A Reader on Open Access for Development”. Feel free to browse… and give me feedback.

    BTW, I’m in Barcelona too. Should you read this comment on time and felt like meeting, drop me a line.

  • D'Arcy Norman May 4, 2007, 7:36 am

    David, this is very cool. I’m seriously considering restarting my Master’s degree here at UCalgary. I’d love to focus on Open Education / Open Content. Now to start shopping the idea around here…

  • Stephen Downes May 4, 2007, 12:28 pm

    It would be nice to be able to get a PhD without attending the classes and paying the fees. The ultimate success of open education is when you can get the same paper studying on your own as you can paying commercial freight.

  • Kevin Gamble May 5, 2007, 5:29 am

    One of the most valuable classes I had in my doctoral program was a law course. I’m thinking a Legal Issues in Open Education course would make a nice addition. It might cover the history of intellectual property rights and education, significant legislation, significant court decisions, WIPO and treaties, fair use, the future (legal issues still to be decided), and…