“From downloads of lectures to entire courses for free, Rebecca Attwood reports on how universities are fitting open educational resources into their missions and marketing
Perhaps you visited Brighton at the weekend and were intrigued by the Royal Pavilion’s ostentatious architecture; now you’d like to learn more about its history. Maybe you are a student who didn’t quite get that complex topic covered in a lecture on Tuesday. You may be a scientist who fancies swotting up on philosophy for a change. Or perhaps you are developing a new undergraduate course and are wondering how a professor at another institution approaches the same topic.
In each case, thanks to universities, the answer is out there on the internet for free. Visitors to The Open University’s OpenLearn website can pick up a 16-hour module examining the Royal Pavilion’s relationship with 19th-century Romanticism and exoticism. The course includes text, film footage, images of 18th-century engravings and learning exercises. The uncertain student, meanwhile, can replay Tuesday’s lecture on his or her university’s iTunes U site. There, too, the scientist can kick off with an hour-long romp through the history of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the present day with Marianne Talbot, departmental lecturer in philosophy at the University of Oxford. And the professor can download an entire course from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – including lectures, handouts, reading lists and assessment materials – to see how things are done there.”