"Courseware" implies any type of "knowledge product" associated with the delivery of a lecture course or program of study. Digitised material such as lecture notes, handouts, slides, tutorial material, exam questions, quizzes, videos and demonstrations are all typical examples. "Open Courseware" is courseware that has been made publicly available, free of charge, by the author to any user with web access anywhere in the world. To find out more about OCW take a look at some of the prime websites in this section of the iBerry Open Education Directory.
As a self-learner, can I use Open Courseware to construct my own program of study?
Yes of course you can but don't make the mistake of confusing courseware with a complete course. The latter is a total educational experience that includes courseware among many other value adding factors such as expert tuition, feedback, assessment and interaction with fellow students so you will probably have to decide for yourself how to benefit from Open Courseware. By all means construct your own programs of study but don't expect support from the authors and institutions that publish the courseware. At a more introductory level, you may simply wish to browse through a range of "taster" material before deciding to enrol in a formal program of studies at an institution.
As an educator, can I use Open Courseware in developing my own courses?
The advantages of using already available material on the web are numerous. The time spent on a new piece of courseware is likely to be reduced, reusing already validated material is likely to lead to less errors, multiple views on a topic can be presented and so on. (This very much applies to developing countries attempting rapid expansion of their own higher education systems.) Use Open Courseware to find supporting materials and information while preparing your own courses but if you wish to make direct use of materials, particularly for commercial purposes rather than self-study and research, you should be aware of any copyright restrictions. Many authors of original materials permit some direct use of these by others provided due acknowledgment is made but if this is not made clear ask for the author's permission first.
As a student, is Open Courseware relevant if I'm already following a course of study?
Very much so! You can find a wealth of information to complement and supplement your education. Remarkable and fascinating material is freely available covering most subject areas - animations, videoed live lectures by renowned experts, fully illustrated lecture notes etc etc. The learning process can only benefit from different approaches and interpretations, at least some of which may well be more suited to your own educational background.
What is the role of iBerry in compiling the Open Education Directory?
Education and discovery are best advanced when knowledge is shared openly and freely. Open Courseware has now become a vast collection of educational resources with much potential for development and widespread exchange of ideas about their use in teaching and learning. We are attempting to provide a free and up-to-date directory to the best Open Courseware originating from the Universities, Colleges and other repositories all over the world and covering all academic subject areas.