What is at the foundation of the open content movement for education? A definition:
The essence of an 4R framework described above is a very close cousin of the Creative Commons licensing movement, which has been providing free licenses to mark creative work with legal permission (license) to share, remix, and distribute a broad array of creative works that are easily accessible in our digital world.
The idea of open courses dates from the 1980s opensource software movement and the 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) decision to free all of its courses over ten years, according to a 2008 article, “Open Educational Resources: Enabling universal education“, in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.
Discovering health sciences open courses were until recently aided by the OCW Finder, which helped people find free online courses called OpenCourseWares (OCWs). Universities and other OCW providers can register their courses with OCW Finder to help people find them. There is a folksemantic tagging system which guides you to courses tagged for health, medicine, and biology. The content in the OCW Finder is based on the OCW standard, and there are certainly other places to look for open courses in biomedicine.:
- 100 Open Courseware Collections in Health and Medicine (aggregates the offerings of many health professional schools)
- Open Michigan courses from the University of Michigan Medical School
One unfortunate outcome of the reliance on grant funding for the OCW Finder is that their catalog and soft funding seemed to terminate at the close of 2008, leaving a gap (or opportunity) for someone to extend the concept of a tagged union catalog of open courses in higher education. Perhaps OAI-PMH should be tied into every open course portal, which would allow for automated updating of a union catalog somewhere.