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Open Education Around the World: Study.com Speaks with Taipei Medical University

Mar 17, 2011

In the pursuit of increasing access to education, Study.com has recently launched an interview series with OpenCourseWare (OCW) providers around the world. These institutions are at the forefront of the open education movement, which provides free educational resources to any student or self learner with an Internet connection. Read on to learn about OCW opportunities at Taipei Medical University (TMU) from Marian Wan in the Office of Biomedical Informatics.

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By Megan Driscoll

Taipei Medical University

Study.com: When did Taipei Medical University begin offering course materials online, and what inspired you to join the OCW Consortium?

MW: Our first course went online in 2008, but most courses went up in 2010.

The OpenSource OpenCourseWare Prototype System (OOPS) project, an effort to translate MIT's OCW into Chinese, exposed us to the concept of OCW in 2005. That led us to look deeper into this movement.

Study.com: Is there a particular educational philosophy that drives your participation in open education?

MW: In the public health domain, it is very important that more people have access to accurate knowledge. We think it's the same in open education.

Study.com: Your website suggests that you're participating in ongoing research on OCW and the global OCW Consortium. Can you describe any projects TMU is involved in?

MW: We are currently cooperating with the Taiwan OCW Consortium on research regarding Internet access and access analytics. Also, we are investigating content delivery on mobile devices.

Study.com: What percentage of TMU's course materials have made it onto your OCW website and what types of materials do you offer - course syllabi, exams, video or audio lectures. . . ?

MW: There are about six percent of TMU courses online. We include course syllabi and lecture PowerPoint files. Only some of the courses have videos.

Study.com: You're a medical university, which is relatively unique in the OCW  Consortium. What kinds of topics are covered in your free courseware?

MW: The dental and nursing colleges offer several professional courses, and the College of Medicine provides basic medical courses, which are fundamental and useful.

Our Center for General Education, which is famous in Taiwan, also provides several prize-winning courses.

Study.com: Although your site is currently available in English, your course materials are all still in Chinese. Do you plan to offer any translated materials in the future? If so, in what languages and on what timeline?

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MW: Some of our professional courses are taught in Chinese. However, most of the PowerPoint files are in English. For now, we do not have translation plans due to tight resources. If we do begin translating, English will be the first language choice.

Study.com: What are the demographics of your primary users? Do you track their countries of origin, age group or other information, and if so, can you share it?

MW: We only have data on country of origin. It shows that most of the visitors to TMU's OCW site are Chinese-based, including China, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia.

We do not have online survey system right now. However, we might add this service in the near future.

Study.com: Are there any other current or in-development initiatives at TMU to promote open education?

MW: We are creating a new podcasting service, and we would like to be listed on iTunesU. We also believe that building mobile learning environment is necessary to make open education more accessible.

Study.com: Finally, I'd like to offer you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about TMU's OCW program.

MW: At the beginning of our OCW project, we set out to follow international standards. We are using EduCommons as our platform, and we produce content according to MIT's guidelines. We also cooperate with the Taiwan OCW Consortium and the international OCW Consortium, and make our content available in multiple formats. We've also joined international OCW committees, including the working group on technology.

We believe that making content is important, but making content easily accessible and exchangeable is more important.

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