In any distance learning education course, the planning process is crucial and requires a great deal of time and effort. Learners must be provided with the proper learning resources for the course as well as activities that create interaction among the students and challenge them. Because of the technological advances over the past several years, distance learning formats are now accessible online. Open Courseware is a term that consists of all supporting digital material for academic courses such as; syllabi, lecture notes, reading lists, presentation slides, case studies and software that is available for educational use and is shared via the internet at no cost (Baldi, Heier, Stanzick, 2002). These courses provide learners the opportunity to learn from college level classes but cannot be taken for college credit. These classes are most beneficial to students that want to see what a particular class is about before actually signing up or for those that just want to gain the additional knowledge.
The course I previewed was Abstract Algebra. URL http://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative/abstract-algebra
Instructor: Benedict Gross, PHD – Harvard Extension School
I chose this particular course because I am terrible at Math. I was hoping this would help to enlighten me on some of the concepts of Algebra that I have had trouble with for many years. No such luck. When entering this course, I found a course syllabus, and some notes for each section – many were hand written though. Each course had recorded lectures that were available for download in Quicktime or MP3 formats or you could play the Flash version directly. Each week consisted of three lectures which were 50 minutes each.
I was really disappointed in the overall structure of this course. The videos were informative, however a lot the notes that were provided by the instructor were just hand written and scanned and the assignments were also hand written. I didn’t find any place to review the assignments or compare answers to see if the questions were being answered correctly. According to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek (2012) some factors that are important in a course such as this are: student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction. An example of this would be a discussion group, wiki or blog where students could go and collaborate with each other and the instructor when needed. The material was presented in several different formats such as audio video and the hand written notes, however more resource links could have been posted as additional learning tools.
I found that the majority of this course was basically just a dumping ground for the information. Not many active learning strategies were implemented within this course.
Baldi, S., Heier, H., & Stanzick, F. (2002). Open courseware vs. open source software- A critical comparison. Retrieved from http://csrc.lse.ac.uk/asp/aspecis/20020137.pdf
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvack, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Yale University (2008). History 116: The American revolution. Retrieved from Yale Open courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-116
Harvard Extension School (2014) Abstract Algebra. Retrieved from Harvard Extension School website: http://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative/abstract-algebra