An Update on Open Courseware at the U of S




Last year we ran a blog post about the Open Courseware (OCW) initiative which is a joint venture of ICT, SESD and the ULC at the U of S. This portal offers a gateway to every course offered at the UofS and provides a space where instructors may choose to open up course information or learning resources to the world.

There has been a lot of talk around the university lately about syllabi being open through OCW, which is now in accordance with the Academic Courses Policy. I thought that these conversations make it an appropriate time to write another post on this initiative.

Instructors have the option to choose whether and how much material appears on ocw.  Adding open content is done within the BBLearn Blackboard system by simply turning on Public Access for any individual documents an instructor wishes to make available.  Course syllabi are set by default as Public Access documents (but with one click, instructors may restrict access to syllabi, if they so choose).

It is important to know that copyright of course materials on the open courseware site remain with the instructor responsible for the course.  Unlike open courseware sites like the one at MIT, where every document has a standard Creative Commons license agreement, the UofS open courseware site has no such blanket policy.  Instructors remain the owners of their intellectual property.  Individual instructors may label their materials on ocw with a Creative Commons license if they wish, and are encouraged to do so.

A valuable resource that comes along with open courseware is the ability to search through the calendar descriptions of all UofS courseswith ease. A quick search for “sustainable” retrieves 21 courses from 8 different colleges and schools. A search for “experiential” retrieves options from 7 colleges.

This concept behind this easy to navigate site is gaining popularity in several other Canadian universities.  It’s good to see the UofS leading the country in this innovative approach to openness.

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