It's clear that the landscape of the open education movement is changing everyday. What we now know as MOOCs (massive open online courses) will soon be superseded by a new MOOC-massively online open curricula. This transition is logical because courses are always steps in a longer learning pathway, which we call curricula, "majors," or degrees.
The immense supply of open educational resources (OER) available, and the efforts of universities to make these materials available to millions of students and teachers around the world, creates an imperative that OER must be used. The challenge is that the supply of OER is largely unorganized and difficult to find. One response to the demand is the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) recent announcement that its entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum is available on YouTube and its OpenCourseWare website. UCI's offering consists of 15 video courses (22 hours per course) covering the entire UCI undergraduate chemistry major.
OER and the Context of MOOCs
UCI's chemistry initiative is the latest development in the 13-year history of open education that began when MIT made its historic announcement that it would put all of its courses on an open and fully accessible OpenCourseWare website. Over the next few years many other institutions followed MIT's lead. Today there are approximately 281 universities around the world that are part of the OCW Consortium. Large-scale open "utilities" have formed, including YouTube and iTunes U, for higher educational institutions to publish OER.
Eventually, the proliferation of OER began to have a gravitational pull. Some within the learning community began to wonder how OER could be more effective in helping students, in serving minority populations, improving the teaching/learning process, increasing graduation rates, and potentially lowering the cost of higher education.
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