When Gary Matkin began UC Irvine’s OpenCourseWare initiative in November 2006, he had a clear vision and plans for success on a global scale.
“I wanted UCI to be part of the growing open educational resource and OCW movements – to provide UC-quality courses and instructional materials to deserving students and teachers around the world, for free,” says the dean of continuing education, distance learning and Summer Session.
Five years later, UCI’s OCW offerings have grown from just 10 complete University Extension courses to include contributions from 66 UCI faculty members, 50 complete courses, 120 video lectures and more than 1,000 learning assets.
Also in that time, UCI’s OCW website has received in excess of 450,000 visits from 370,000 people around the globe. It continues to attract at least 30,000 visits per month from 160 countries and is consistently ranked among the top 10 OCW projects in the U.S., alongside those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University.
“With all these milestones we’ve accomplished and the current trend toward open education,” Matkin says, “we’re seeing many of our faculty beginning to experience and understand the significance of OCW – for themselves, their colleagues and their students.”
Adds OCW director Larry Cooperman: “It provides a simple yet dynamic way for faculty to display their work and research to students and other professors around the world.”
For instance, physics & astronomy professor Michael Dennin created UCI’s first fully developed online undergraduate course and, in 2009, contributed it to the university’s OCW site. With more than 3,000 visits, “Physics 21: Science from Superheroes to Global Warming” is one of the most popular offerings.
Chairman of UCI’s Council on Educational Policy, Dennin says, “Our participation in OCW visibly illustrates UCI’s leadership in the UC system, fosters a strong partnership between faculty and the Academic Senate, and continues UCI’s land-grant tradition of openness.”
Education professor Michael Martinez reports that his lectures for “Education 173: Cognition & Learning in Educational Settings” – available online through OCW – have been viewed by students around the world, which he believes broadens awareness of UCI’s high-quality instruction.
“OCW has been really valuable,” he says. “It gives my current students direct access to my lectures, including PowerPoint slides and interactive discussion. And it opened my mind to the possibility of expanded future online offerings, whether courses or entire degree programs. OCW provides a venue for experimentation, and so far I’m very pleased with the results.”
Valerie Jenness, dean of the School of Social Ecology and professor of criminology, law & society, contributed her course on hate crimes to the site. “The value is threefold,” she says. “OCW gives permanence to educational materials; it extends the reach of educational efforts beyond the confines of academic institutions; and it enables a plethora of audiences to benefit from a host of educational moments.”
Matkin, who has seen his vision come to fruition, concurs. “The pathway toward openness in instructional materials and the learning/teaching process is already well paved,” he adds. “Current trends and institutional necessity make involvement in OCW an imperative.”