Open Source, Open Minds: The OpenCourseWare Consortium Conference

May 10, 2011

We're back home on the West Coast, but we still can't stop talking about the amazing time we had at the OpenCourseWare Consortium Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While we could never choose a favorite speaker or presentation, we definitely know what impressed us the most about this experience.

by Stacy Redd

A Conference Unlike Any Other

This wasn't my first time at a conference, but it was certainly my first exposure to a conference like this one. It's rare to find a gathering of people who are only motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, but that's what the OCWC Conference is. Everyone we met was incredibly passionate about making top-quality educational resources available to the world. On top of that, we met with people like Tom Caswell, who's devoted to ensuring that these resources are as inclusive as possible. He and his team at the Open Course Library are making sure that their resources are globally conscious and available to users of all ability levels.

OpenCourseWare Conference OCWC 10 years OCW MIT

A Truly Global Effort

The conference had attendees from all around the world; I personally spoke with people from Kenya, Japan, Brazil and Indonesia. The OpenCourseWare Consortium has members in 45 countries and territories, and its staff and board members live in Mexico, South Africa and Holland, just to name a few. Each year, the conference is held in a different global location; last year the conference was in Tokyo, Japan, and the 2012 OCWC Conference will take place in the other Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Share and Share Alike

It might seem redundant to say that this was the most open conference we've ever attended, but it really was. In addition to making these great educational resources open to anyone in the world for free (which is an incredible feat on its own), the open source code that these schools use allow anyone to utilize, modify and customize their source material. For example, Open.Michigan's new OERbit software is open to all users who want to use to create educational resources. This high level of sharing allows participants to create the best possible resources for their users.

They've Only Just Begun

While the members of the OCWC were proud to celebrate ten years of OpenCourseWare, one thing was clear: they're not resting on their laurels. This team wants to continue to grow, innovate and improve the ways it shares knowledge with the world. We were fortunate enough to interview many of the participants of this exciting movement, including Dr. Bakary Diallo of African Virtual University and Anka Mulder of TU Delft and will be featuring those interviews here on the blog in the weeks to come. We'll also be highlighting new innovations in the world of OCW in the months and years to come, so stay tuned!

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