Open Education Around the World: Speaks with the University of Notre Dame

By Megan Driscoll

University of Notre Dame, photo by Jim Cassady When did the University of Notre Dame begin offering course materials online, and what inspired you to join the OCW Consortium?

Cathy Schultz & Kevin Barry: We've had individual instructors with course websites since the mid-1990s, but it was our interaction with MIT OCW that inspired us to pursue the opportunity to be part of the OCW Consortium. Our site was launched on September 20, 2006, with eight courses. Is there a particular educational philosophy that drives your participation in open education?

CS & KB: We have tried from the beginning to provide courseware that includes a complete picture of how the courses were conducted along with all of the material that could legally be included. Our hope is that visitors will have a rich experience in any ND OCW course that they visit. Can you discuss the ways in which participating in the OCW project helps forward Notre Dame's stated goal, 'to provide a forum where through free inquiry and open discussion the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions and every other area of human scholarship and creativity'?

CS & KB: The courses initially selected to be included in our OCW project were all related to the human condition. Sharing them through the OCW consortium provided a formal venue for those courses to be brought to the world so that others could use them to pursue free inquiry and open discussion of the ideas presented. What percentage of Notre Dame'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. . . ?

CS & KB: We currently have 44 published courses, many of which are cross-listed in multiple departments. Every course that we publish has a syllabus, and every lecture-based course is required to have lecture content, which may include audio or video lectures, notes, slides and/or detailed transcripts. Courses materials may also include reading lists, exams, homework assignments, projects or other learning activities. What are the demographics of your primary users? Do you track their countries of origin, age group or other information, and can you share this data?

CS & KB: In the past year we had visits from 207 countries and territories, of which about 65 percent were from the United States. Are there any other current or in-development initiatives at Notre Dame to promote open education?

CS & KB: Notre Dame is always looking for ways to contribute to the common good through advancement and sharing of knowledge, but I am not aware of any specific current initiatives on open education.

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