Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

43% Independent

Cecilia d'Oliveira and colleagues recently wrote an essay in Science about MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative, ten years after its inception. Among the stats:

OCW currently receives upwards of 1.5 million visits each month from ~900,000 unique individuals. Students have grown to 42% of the audience, and educators and independent learners now constitute 9% and 43% of visitors, respectively. Twelve percent of educators responding to a March 2010 visitor survey indicated that they do incorporate OCW materials into their own content as anticipated, but educators more frequently use OCW for personal learning (37%), to adopt new teaching methods (18%), and as a reference for their students (16%). Students were largely expected to use the site as a supplement to materials they received in their own classes, a use identified by 40% of students. Just over 43%, however, indicated that they also use OCW for personal learning beyond the scope of their formal studies, and a further 12% use it as an aid in planning their course of study. Independent learners use OCW in a variety of personal (41%) and professional (50%) contexts, including home-schooling children and keeping up on developments in their professional field. 66% of visitors indicate they are mostly or completely successful at meeting their educational goals for visiting the site.

I wish there was more detailed analysis of what's worked and what hasn't (I'd obviously like to imitate their successes and avoid their mistakes), but even without that, it's clear that bums-in-seats is not the future of higher education...

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