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Given that one of the inspirations of OpenWetWare was MIT OpenCourseWare, we decided to talk with the OCW folks at MIT about how OWW and OCW might interact in a mutually beneficial way. (Actually OCW contacted us first!) Both organizations are committed to many of the same ideals including the dissemination of educational materials.

As a first step, we've been talking with them about MIT's laboratory course BE.109. Lab courses present a particular challenge to OCW because of the difficulty in capturing the material from the course in an online format. Since OWW is a wiki, more information is captured online (since students contribute to the site) than in typical static sites. As part of this collaboration BE.109 is being ported to OCW. This serves a few purposes.

  1. It raises the profile of BE.109 to the world since MIT OCW is well-recognized for its exceptional educational materials.
  2. It provides a complete snapshot of the course for archival purposes (as opposed to the continuously evolving nature of the wiki).

Current status


Discussion topics

Linking from OCW to OWW

Initial topics

Some discussion topics that might be worth bringing up with OCW folks...(just brainstorming, please edit excessively).

  1. We want to get all the advice we can from OCW about how they convinced faculty members that OCW was worthwhile.
  2. Can course content on OWW be easily published on OCW?
    • At the end of the semester, we could potentially rip the static html versions of each page and port them to OCW? This would provide an archival, static snapshot of the course that could reside on OCW.
    • The disadvantage of this approach is that it would lose the content on the talk pages. However, there is not a lot of content on the talk pages.
    • OCW can convert material from the static site into an OCW course posting. They have the resources to request permission for copyrighted materials and/or generating non-copyrighted versions of graphics.
  3. The primary advantage of OWW over OCW is that students get essentially an equal opportunity to contribute to class materials as instructors.
    • Currently, there are some mechanisms for students to contribute to class material on OCW. For example, there are discussion boards on Stellar sites (I think) but they are probably pretty under-utilized. Does the wiki mechanism enable/encourage more class participation?
    • OCW is developing MyOpenCourseWare which would allow communities to grow up around topic areas and courses. It would be extensible such that people could use external tools.
  4. OCW also uses a Creative Common license but excludes commercial uses of the work whereas OWW permit commercial uses of the work. Is this is concern? (Probably not an issue for courses published on OWW first).
  5. Issues specific to integration of BE.109 onto OCW
    • BE.109 material tends to change dramatically from year to year. Thus, it requires consistent updating.
      • OCW tries to update courses at least every 4 years and every 2 years for rapidly changing courses.
    • How do we capture offline materials? Perhaps lecture slides and writing instruction materials should be uploaded as pdfs to OWW or even directly to OCW? Another possibility for the future is videotaping BE.109 lectures.
      • OCW has resources to
        1. videotape lectures and/or labs
        2. hire a student notetaker for the class
        3. convert powerpoint presentations to pdf for posting on OCW