Liberal Arts 2.0 – Join our free Open Courses!

by Hannes Klöpper and Albert Chin

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For a few years now, the trend of making learning materials freely accessible has grown continuously. All of this started back in 2001, when the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology began to make its courseware publicly available on the Internet. Since then, the idea of open education has turned into a global movement, and now over 200 universities from around the world have joined the so-called Open Courseware Consortium.



iversity joins the Open Education Movement

Up to this day these resources have only been posted on static websites, void of possibilities for interaction between instructors and ‘students’, or just between the independent learners themselves. What so far has been missing was exactly what for many learners is the key part in the learning process: the exchange with others. This is what iversity’s free ‘Open Courses’ seek to provide. By integrating open educational resources and public domain content into a social learning environment, iversity enables self-learners to engage with the content and exchange with their peers.



Activating social dynamics in Open Courses

Having the opportunity to ask questions, share insights with others or to validate one’s own conclusions is crucial for successful learning. On iversity, users can collaborate and discuss course material such as readings, video lectures, diagrams, and homework assignments. Moreover, unlike other existing platforms such as iTunes U, iversity allows users not only to upload their own content – such as documents, links, and other forms of media – to supplement the course, but also to comment and engage with fellow self-learners and students on said content.

Find a relevant article or an interesting video on YouTube pertaining to your study group or course? Share what you’ve found with your peers on iversity! iversity’s features will grant users a richer, more social -– not to mention more convenient and practical – learning experience . For example, iversity’s Social Reading feature allows users to take notes, annotate and highlight content in texts and images – live and online. Moreover, you can save time and money and avoid those printshop queues with iversity’s print-on-demand feature: create your own personal Reader with any document of 40+ pages in paperback form directly from the Resources tabs (for the time being this only available in Germany – if you know of a service that we could partner with in your location, shoot us an e-mail).


The idea of making Open Educational Resources social also convinces renowned researchers. Nobel Prize winner Günter Blobel, for example, points out that “it makes sense to use the Internet for cost-efficient provision of learning materials independent of time and place. Integrating them into an interactive and social learning environment – this approach to me seems to be the logical next step! I’m happy to see that young people in my native Germany are so passionate about education. I wish the team of iversity all the best.”

Making what has become accessible, social

iversity’s Open Courses approach now provides a variety of ways for students and independent learners to interact and share. Thematically, the spectrum of iversity’s Open Courses ranges from a Shakespeare reading group to an introductory class in computer science to a discussion group on the current financial crisis.

If you feel there is something else we should offer: you are very welcome to set up your own open course, or discussion group, and share learning materials with like-minded people all over the world. Feel free to get in touch with us and we will be glad to give you some advice on how to best start your own open course!


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