A primary objective of the project is to build a community of use for the courses that will play an important role in ongoing course development and improvement. The courses are developed in a modular fashion to allow faculty at a variety of institutions to either deliver the courses as designed or to modify the content and sequence to fit the needs of their students and/or their curricular and course goals. These courses will be broadly disseminated at no cost to individual students and at low cost to institutions.This suggests a more radical possibility underlying their initiative, yet since the project uses proprietary standards another institution wanting to make use of the material would have to buy in to the whole package for a particular course, there would be little scope for "localization".
It is important to recall how much of our culture - including political culture, economic culture, educational culture — has been shaped by 'gatekeepers', elites who, because of their knowledge and position, are the sole arbiters of what we will read, buy or learn. This gatekeeping function has already been disintermediated...This reflects exactly the conclusion reached by a group of University teachers I was part of a few years ago. Some of the social trends that the Internet illustrates and enhances, notably : information is easily and speedily available; "information tends to be free"... render the traditional role of Universities as doorways to authenticated knowledge void of meaning. To put the feeling of that group crudely "why should anyone study at the University of Auckland once they can follow courses online with streaming video etc. by the best profs. from Harvard and Oxford...?
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