H817: Searching for relevant references


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This post is a response to Week 1, Activity 4: Reading an article and searching for relevant references.

I chose to search for references to MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative mentioned in Minds on fire: open education, the long tail and learning 2.0 (Seely Brown and Adler, 2008).

Approach to research

A Google search revealed a lot of information, starting with the project’s own website and many news articles and blog posts. The project has its own Wikipedia page and its own Twitter account, which I have chosen to follow (as I think it will be relevant for the MOOC part of this module). I also searched in the OU Library using the search term ‘MIT Open Courseware’. This brought up many journal articles, and I chose a recent one that looked interesting to read further.

Perusing these resources suggests that the initiative has continued to grow and has evolved, from putting courseware online to now putting self-study courses and now MOOCs through the MITx and Edx initiatives. This suggests that the project has had wider implications and moved beyond the institution – impacting on other institutions.  According to Johansen and Wiley (2010) ‘Since 2002, the OCW movement has reached far beyond MIT. Over 200 institutions
around the world have joined to form the OCW Consortium, openly publishing over 8,000 courses in a variety of languages’ (p.370).

According to the references I found, MIT’s original purpose MIT’s was to make its resources freely available to enable other teachers and educators to take the resources for their own teaching. However,  research found that it more students than teachers are making use of the resources. It would seem therefore that the  MIT OCW was one of the pre-cursors to the MOOC movement.

Reflection on finding references

A Google search was a good way of gauging the trajectory of this initiative. The quality and currency of the initiative’s own website and Twitter account indicate whether it is still going or not – in this case the project has developed and evolved. There was a lot of information available including press and blog articles suggesting that this initiative has high visibility and interest. While Wikipedia cannot entirely be relied on for accuracy, it is a good starting point.

Finding journal articles in the OU Library was an indication that this initiative is being researched and is having a wider impact. Peer reviewed papers can provide more credible information about the initiative that news, press and blog posts might not.


Hafner, K (2010) ‘An open mind’, New York Times, 16 April [Online]. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/education/edlife/18open-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Johansen, J, & Wiley, D. (2011) ‘A sustainable model for OpenCourseWare development’, Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(3), 369-382. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9160-7

@MITOCW (2013) MIT OpenCourseWare [Twitter account]. Available at https://twitter.com/MITOCW

MIT OpenCourseWare (2012) Home Page [Online]. Available at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

MIT News (2012) ‘MIT launches online learning initiative’ [Online]. Available at http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html

Watters, A (2011) ‘New MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative Aims to Improve Independent Online Learning’, 12 January, [Online]. Available at  http://readwrite.com/2011/01/12/new_mit_opencourseware_initiative_aims_to_improve

Wikipedia (2013) MIT OpenCourseWare [Online], 25 January, Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_OpenCourseWare



2 thoughts on “H817: Searching for relevant references

  1. Thanks for this. I wonder though, of the open courses (pre MOOC), did you discover what level of courseware was offered? By that I mean what the content consisted of? (ie. pdfs, podcasts, interactive activities, etc). In other words, are the open courses mainly repositories of notes and text or are there further developed ‘activities’?

  2. Hi DenekaThanks for stopping by. In response to your query, initially the open courses were mainly repositories of content designed for educators to re-use and were not necessarily complete courses. In 2011, they launched OCW Scholar courses which designed the course material to help independent learners work through the material and activities in a logical way and so take a more complete course. While there was no instructor interaction, students taking these courses are encouraged to talk to other students using the OpenStudy social network.

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