Open Learning Resources

As promised in my previous post, below are a few resources that are openly accessible, with no ‘fee’ involved, and in two cases, allow you to contribute to the body of openly accessible knowledge.

A common question is why make such educational and cultural resources openly and freely accessible and modifiable. In essence:

  • Faster response time to changing, new knowledge.
  • Customizable to local needs that require a different presentation of material.
  • Lower cost.
  • Wider base of contributors and potentially richer content.
  • Faster translation to languages by members of the community.

And as the Wikipedia experience shows, generating and maintaining content by a community base need not necessarily mean inaccurate data because in such systems, problematic content and translations are shallow because given a large enough audience, peers, readers and commentators, almost all problematic content will be quickly noticed highlighted and fixed.

1. Connexions

Connexions is an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web.

They state that, “…when people share their knowledge, they can select from the best ideas to create the most effective learning materials. The knowledge in Connexions can be shared and built upon by all because it is reusable. Just as knowledge is interconnected, people don’t live in a vacuum. Connexions promotes communication between content creators and provides various means of collaboration. Collaboration helps knowledge grow more quickly, advancing the possibilities for new ideas from which we all benefit.”

2. FlexBooks

Flexbooks came into being because textbooks are limiting, expensive and are difficult to update and consequently, teachers find it hard to introduce new concepts and cater to different needs. What is needed is a more flexible and less expensive system to create and distribute books and online content and FlexBooks, by their very nature, satisfies this need. They contain high quality online content, and are easy to create, update and print. They provide a new system that will follow an open source philosophy to place content on-line that can be “mixed, modified and printed”.

3. MIT OpenCourseWare

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made available content from over 1800 courses that they teach. OpenCourseWare is a free publication of course materials used at MIT and includes lecture notes, problem sets, labs and lecture videos and demonstrations on a wide variety of subjects.

Interested yet? And if so, how do we, given our mission, harness these ideas and technologies to get a book in to the hands of the last child in the last village in the furthest corners of India and the world?


Picture via svenwerk


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