Revisiting the Reusability and Openness of Resources in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Courseware

February 11, 2018

The marketing of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Courseware gives the impression that it has the potential to contribute to quality open learning and opening up higher education globally. It is from this perspective that the potential contribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) units in the MIT Open Courseware to opening up higher education in Rwanda was investigated. Ten OER units were sampled as objects of the study. I took the role of an archive analyst, giving full attention to any item that constituted each unit. Results indicate that only one unit had enough openly licensed resources to enable its potential adaptation for use in opening up higher education. In other units, only metadata (course information, the syllabus, course calendar, and the list of required and suggested readings), assignments and/or quizzes/exams were openly licensed. Most (if not all) of the required and suggested readings, which are the core learning materials learners need to engage with for quality learning, had to be purchased, mostly from the Amazon website. On the basis of these findings, I argue that the MIT Open Courseware served the marketing agenda (probably for the purpose of acquiring funding), rather than the open access agenda. The study may benefit funding organisations, educators and institutions that are interested in supporting or engaging in the production, adaptation and use of OER with an agenda to contribute to opening up higher education.

Journal of Interactive Media in Education