OpenCourseWare Buzzwords Continued

By Stacy Redd

Understanding OCW Terminology

Because OpenCourseWare is relatively new and involves a lot of emerging technologies, it uses many unique vocabulary words. Here are some more of the new terms we've learned this week:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons supports universal access to education and research by acting as a liaison between the ease of copying and pasting materials from the Internet and the confusing nature of copyright laws. Creative Commons provides a variety of copyright licenses that allow artists, students and educators to share and publish materials safely and legally.

Khan Academy

Created by former hedge-fund manager Sal Khan as a way to remotely tutor his cousins in math, the Khan Academy now has over 2,000 short videos (usually about 10 minutes in length) covering topics from calculus to chemistry to the French Revolution. Sal Khan (a graduate of MIT, an OCW pioneer) delivered a remote presentation to the OCWC Conference attendees, where he discussed the future of Khan Academy as well as the entire OCW movement.


Technically, metadata just means 'data about data,' but the true definition is a lot more complicated than that. As it pertains to OCW, metadata helps users search for digital objects (namely, online course materials). Relevant OCW metadata would describe the content's subject matter, authors and the nature of the content.


A crucial facet of the Open.Michigan movement at the University of Michigan, OERbit is a Drupal-based publishing platform for Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERbit won one of the first ACE (Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence) Awards from the OpenCourseWare Consortium at the conference this year.

Open Source

Open source code is a key aspect of the OCW movement. Open source provides users with the ability to use, modify and redistribute source code for free. This allows different universities, organizations and individuals to create their own OCW and OER materials by utilizing existing source code instead of starting from scratch.

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