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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Open Course Ware at UMB

For students who have lost class handouts or other crucial texts, or those who are looking for something more to base a class on than the short course description, the IT Department at UMass Boston has set up Open Course Ware, an educational tool that supplies much of the texts and information for a course online.

Currently located at http://pilot.educommons.usu.edu/umb, the website allows any general user to access the site. Once a course is selected, everything from the course syllabus to class handouts and even videos are made instantly available to the viewer.

The idea was first introduced to UMass Boston by a presentation given by members of MIT. Along with Tufts and other private universities, MIT has had similar programs up and running for a while with quite a bit of success.

When members of UMB faculty saw the design, several were instantly impressed. The idea was then brought to Darryl Ford and Apurva Mehta in the IT Department. They began work on it about six to eight months ago and are currently expanding on the now established site.

Being a rather new concept to the school, Open Course Ware was initially handled rather cautiously. Fortunately, the matter of initial funding was solved, as the site is now hosted for free off of another site provided by The Center for Open Sustainable Learning. As for the content, it was up to the school’s professors to provide the material from their classes, so it may be scanned and added over time.

So far, roughly nine professors have hopped on the bandwagon with many more to follow. This, however, is a personal choice on the part of the faculty since it is their privately compiled work displayed on a publicly available website. There are currently about 18 courses already listed with all relevant materials provided, except for textbooks.

The program is so popular that on Nov. 28, Governor Deval Patrick will be speaking at MIT and will touch upon this idea of publicly provided course information in hopes that UMass Boston will be the first of public state universities to offer such material. With funding that has just recently been approved for an independent server at UMass Boston to manage the permanent site, it is hoped that most, if not all, courses will be made readily available at students’ fingertips.