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UAF joins OpenCourseWare Consortium

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Distance Education has signed an agreement that will bring UAF courses to a worldwide audience and introduce Alaska students to courses from more than 200 universities and colleges.

Under the agreement, UAF will join the OpenCourseWare Consortium and contribute 10 courses over the next two years. The consortium is a partnership of more than 200 higher education institutions worldwide who make their courses and course materials available free to the public online.

Open courses do not have instructors and are not graded. However, all course materials are available online. Instructors can use the course materials to teach their own classes. Students can work through the classes both for their own information and to get a feel for college coursework.

"We want to improve student success and improve our retention by letting students understand what university courses truly are," said Curt Madison, director of the UAF Center for Distance Education. He noted that the OpenCourseWare model offers a low-stress introduction to higher education. "[Students] don't have to reveal themselves to the system and it lowers the barrier to participation."

CDE instructional designer Chris Lott said he hopes UAF can contribute to the consortium in several ways. UAF strives to make its distance courses a comprehensive experience for students. In addition, he said, the consortium offers a chance to expand role of a "community of learners" to students worldwide. Finally, he said he looks forward to developing courses that draw exclusively on free online materials, making them available to students who may not have access to textbooks. Designers are currently working on ocean sciences, developmental math and information fluency courses.

The OpenCourseWare Consortium includes members in 29 countries, including the United States. Members include higher education institutions from small regional colleges to large public and private universities. The consortium aims to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware.

"We are excited to accept the University of Alaska Fairbanks into our organization," said Terri Bays, executive director of the consortium. "The ocean sciences program in particular stands to make a significant contribution to the OCW movement. In committing to provide a hands-on lab in this crucial subject to a worldwide audience for free, they are demonstrating the truly global impact opencourseware can have."

CONTACT: Curt Madison, UAF Center for Distance Education director, at 907-474-4701 or via e-mail at fncm1@uaf.edu. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu. Mike Caulfield, OpenCourseWare Consortium director of community outreach, at 603-292-3929 or via e-mail at mike@ocwconsortium.org.



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