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The Impact of Open Source


          Due to the influence and expansion of technology over the years, education, specifically distance learning has evolved tremendously. Students are now able to view resources and course materials online. Open courseware is a course resource that is available on the internet and is provided by universities such as MIT, Yale, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical School and many others.

Open Source vs. Open Courseware

Open Courseware is a term that consists of all supporting digital material for academic courses such as; syllabi, lecture notes, reading lists, presentation slides, case studies and software that is available for educational use and is shared via the internet at no cost (Baldi, Heier, Stanzick, 2002). Students can preview these types of courses to make choices about enrolling in the class or just expanding their knowledge base. One of the main benefits of using open courseware are the materials are free for the learner. However, a drawback of using these types of courses is that the learner gets no recognition (or degree) for participating

“Open source software is intended to be freely shared and can be improved upon and redistributed to others” (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). Benefits are that anyone can take a software written code and do just about anything with it, as long as the uses are consistent with the 10-part definition (Simonson, Smaldino,& Zvacek, 2015). One potential drawback of open source software is that if the open source “software includes its construction plans, anyone, who knows how to read them, can profit from the ideas and insights of the original programmer” (Baldi, Heier, Stanzick, 2002).

Previewed Course



Instructor: Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta

Retrieved from: Open Yale Courses

          When entering this course site, the course set up if very clear. Each resource is clearly identified, the student can download files associated with the course, purchase books, and view the course syllabus. This course has 24 lecture sessions and two exams that have been recorded and can be live streamed or downloaded. Yale also provides a survey for this open course. The survey contains ten questions regarding the student views of the course.

My background is in education. I chose this particular course to evaluate because of a personal interest in the Italian language. Coming from a big Italian family, this course caught my attention. Some factors that Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek (2015), believe are important to include in a course are: student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction, such as discussion groups, a variety of teaching and learning strategies and methods that are activity based, opportunities to assess progress through papers, quizzes or exams, and the use of multimedia (print, audio and video). This particular course does meets most but not all of the needs of distance learners. This course does not provide the discussion groups. A majority of the course seemed to be the material from a face-to-face course. This course did provide two exams to assess learning.

I compared the course to Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek’s Fundamentals of Teaching Online strategies in the table below. On the left is the strategy used and on the right is how ITAL 310 measured up to those strategies.

Fundamentals of Teaching Online (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015) ITAL 310 Comments


Avoid “dumping” a Face-to-Face course onto the Web The course content seems to be the material that is used in a face-to-face classroom


Organize the Course and make organization and requirements clear to students The content of the course is easy to navigate with numbered lessons and exams


Keep students informed constantly There is no interaction between the instructor and student in this course


Think about course outcomes Students are provided the opportunity to use higher order thinking skills to understand the material in the course


Test application, not rote memory There are 2 exams throughout the course to assess learning


Integrate the power of the Web into the course The course uses Web 2.0 tools, uses the internet to download files, youtube to view videos and surveys about the course


Apply adult learning principles There was little to no evidence that adult learning principles were used in this course


Extend course reading beyond the text (or to replace the text) The option to purchase the course book and the option to purchase the Professors book, articles and youtube videos


Train students to use the course web site No training is provided to the students but there are materials available to download


Open courseware provides an opportunity for adult learners to expand their knowledge without the additional cost. Students can gain knowledge from the course, but will not earn any college credits by participating in this learning experience. In addition, this course does not meet the fundamentals of designing and teaching instruction online. These courses are not designed with the learner in mind. Most of these courses are comprised of the materials from face-to-face courses. Open courseware provides an ample amount of time for students to use the course materials, become familiar with the content and absorb the new information. In order for “deep learning to occur, we need to have repeated exposure to the information, along with some time in between for reflection” (Anderson, 2011).



Anderson, M. (2011, January-February).  The world is my school: Welcome to the era of personalized learning. The Futurist. Retrieved from:

Baldi, S., Heier, H., & Stanzick, F. (2002). Open courseware vs. open source software- A critical comparison.  Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S.,& Zvack, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Yale University (2015). ITAL 310: DANTE IN TRANSLATION. Retrieved from Yale Open courses website:



I am a Learning Strategy Lead, Project Manager, and Professor at the local college. I teach diverse audiences through in person and online learning environments. I manage projects that Instructional Designers create elessons for and consult on curriculum developments. I look forward to continuing to teach in the future, utilizing my instructional designer skills to help create engaging learning environments.

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