Last week, soon after I had posted about Open Yale Courses, conversation about it started on the DEOS listserv. While I’ve been an avid lurker for years, I had never contributed. So, I chose Open Yale as my first opportunity. Some critiqued the initiative and similar ones as promoting poor e-learning courses. My response was that these are not really e-learning courses, that they serve a different purpose. I was surprised to find that some saw fit to judge them as full e-learning courses, criticizing Yale for producing courses that lack the characteristics of an effective online course. Who would mistake these for actual online courses, I thought? Well, perhaps I was mistaken. Since that post I have found more than a few people referring to these projects as free online courses.
What is interesting is that a few people fear these open course initiatives are a threat to online learning. After all, these are free, right? I don’t think they are much of a threat to face-to-face or e-learning courses, but that they are wonderful resources in the spirit of the open source movement. At the same time, if anyone should be threatened by these efforts, it is the professor who insists that one-way lectures to a hall of 200+ students is good education. How is that better than these freely available lectures from top schools in the country? At least you can pause and replay the free online versions- not a small feature when considering teaching and learning effectiveness.