The Open Courseware I have chosen to review is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course. Courses are offered in areas of business, energy, engineering, fine arts, health and medicine, humanities, mathematics, social science, science, society and teaching and education. The history of MIT OCW dates back to 1999 at which time, faculty members were looking for ways to integrate student learning through the use of the internet (MIT Open Courseware, 2014). OCW was created in the year 2000 and offered about 50 courses. The growing number of courses offered since 2000 have increased to over 1,800 and more are being added each year
(MIT Open Courseware, 2014).
In my opinion, MIT OCW is very well planned and designed for a distance learning environment. Whether the participant is new to distance learning or more advanced, the information provided on the OCW is easy to locate and well organized. The OCW offers a “Getting Started Tour” containing information about locating courses, questions about technology, how to use provided materials, answers to questions about fair use and information about citing any materials used from their OCW. All of the materials needed to enroll and complete an online course are provided for the facilitator or learner so he or she has all of the resources to be successful in the mentoring or learning environment. “Instructional design should consider all aspects of the instructional environment, following a well-organized procedure that provides guidance to even the novice distance learner” (Simonson et al, 2012).
The recommendations for successful online instruction located in our course textbook are established throughout the MIT OCW. The content, courses, goals and objectives, type of media and provided resources are clear and easy to locate through the modules and links. “In an Internet-based learning environment, the instructor needs to be concerned with the layout of the courseware and the types of resources available to the students at the distant sites” (Simonson et al, 2012).
Student engagement is clearly important to the designers and developers of the MIT OCW as they provide numerous types of multimedia technology. Video, audio, interactive simulations, online textbooks and project based learning assignments are offered to heighten learner engagement. “Because of the nature of distance learning and the separation of the instructor from the students, it is essential that the instructor begin to think visually. Too often, instructors do not place enough emphasis on designing and using quality visual materials. Taking the time to develop good visual media will enhance the quality of the learning experience” (Simonson et al, 2014). I poked around to different courses I had no interest in and found the video and color presentations to be extremely eye-catching and engaging.
The designers and developers of the MIT OCW designed and developed a very effective OCW in which instructors and learners would be engaged and successful. The planning spent in the design is clear through the ease of locating information while staying engaged throughout the discovery of the information.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.