OpenCourseWare's Newest Advocate Is...Randy Jackson?

Randy Jackson of 'American Idol' may not be the person you immediately associate with education innovation, but as a long-time judge of talent, he knows a good thing when he sees one. That's why he recently highlighted one of UC Irvine's open courses on his website. What's the course and why does Jackson like it? Find out!

By Erin Tigro

OpenCourseWare: The Next American Idol?

Randy Jackson is not just one of the American Idol judges; he's also a talented musician, Grammy awarded producer and music manager. Arguably more important though, he's a strong proponent of continual education. Recently his website, Randy Jackson NEXT: Your Own Personal School of Rock, highlighted UC Irvine's 'Introduction to Pitch Systems in Tonal Music' course. The site provides a link to the free course and lists it as a great learning resource. This introductory series was also recognized by the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC). Specifically, in 2011, the OCWC selected this course, led by instructor John Crooks, as a winner of the Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence under the video and multimedia category.

UC Irvine's Role in Open Access Education

Since 2006, University of California, Irvine has been involved in providing the public with free Web-based access to many higher education courses and learning materials. UC Irvine was the first of all University of California campuses as well as the first institution in the western U.S. to join the movement. With a commitment to facilitating quality global learning, the school uploads almost ten new no-cost courses each month. Registration is not required, and users are free to move through the content at their own pace. The school's open access courses are the same lessons that many admitted students take. What's more, many modules integrate helpful videos, audios and computer graphics.

Why This Matters

Recently, ran a user survey that measured how and why people engaged with OCW. The most surprising result of that survey was that 40% of participants didn't even know that these free online courses even existed. Top universities like UC Irvine, MIT and Yale are putting their best courses online for anyone to access, but it didn't seem like the general population was aware of these amazing free resources. Having a popular figure like Randy Jackson acknowledge the value of OCW will help increase awareness of these fantastic resources and allow people to educate themselves on their terms - at no cost!

Most Popular OCW Courses at UC Irvine

UC Irvine's OCW courses were well-represented in's recent OCW People's Choice Awards. Professor Michael Dennin's popular course, Science from Superheroes to Global Warming, won for the category of Best User Experience, and UC Irvine OCW courses were also finalists in the Best Non-Video OER and Most Open categories.

Read on to find out more about University of California, Irvine's OpenCourseWare initiative.

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