Open courseware: examples in the water and sanitation sector
Updated - Friday 17 September 2010
In 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, took a radical step when it launched its Open CourseWare site, which made course materials available online free-of-charge. By the end of 2007, material from all 1,800 courses run by MIT was made available on the site. Over 200 higher education institutions and associated organisations worldwide, which have formed the OpenCourseware Consortium , offer open courseware programmes.
Among all the courses offered by members of the Consortium, there are three which specifically deal with water and sanitation in developing countries:
Johns Hopkins Bloomsberg School of Public Health, USA
MIT also offers several general water-related courses as part of its open courseware programme on civil and environmental engineering.
UNEP, RELMA, Margraf Publishers and FAKT have developed an online course on rainwater harvesting for the International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (IRCSA) and The RainWater Partnership.
On the United Nations University (UNU) OpenCourseWare Portal, the UNU International Network on Water and Health (UNU-INWEH, Canada) offers an introductory course on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
So far most of the institutions offering open courseware have received start-up funding from external sources, in particular from the Hewlett Foundation , as well as from government. Open courseware is helping to make education a public good, available to all, while at the same time attracting potential students to enrol in higher education institutions.
 Hewlett Foundation - Open Educational Resources (OER) programme
Related publication: OECD and CERI (2007). Giving knowledge for free : the emergence of open educational resources. Paris, France, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Download here
Source: Kim Thomas, MIT sets learning free: will universities go down the open access route and make all their course materials freely available online?, Information world review, 04 Jun 2007
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