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OCW Receiving National, International Recognition

Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009

USU's Brett Shelton teaching for OCW video

Brett Shelton teaching for a video produced by USU's OpenCourseWare. Lectures can be recorded and shared online with anybody with an Internet connection.

For the past four years, Utah State University’s OpenCourseWare director Marion Jensen opens his email to find letters from people around the world asking for a chance to gain an education. One such email came from a person named Alademi, a U.S. graduate living in Yemen. He contacted Jensen to request an application for Utah State’s graduate program. Alademi has a four-year degree and now wants an MBA in economics.

But how is it that Alademi can work on an MBA in economics while living across the world in Yemen? USU’s OpenCourseWare program can take some credit for that.
OpenCourseWare is a collection of digital content used in classrooms such as lecture notes, readings, syllibi, audio and video recordings on the Web for anyone to access. An additional bonus in this case, however, is that all the materials are free. Once accessed, the viewer can use and reuse the material as often as they like.
USU is among the elite who have developed coursework and groundbreaking technology that have assisted universities in setting up their own OpenCourseWare sites. There are more than 7,000 online courses available from all the participating institutions. Utah State University is often listed as one of the innovators of OpenCourseWare, alongside universities such as MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Notre Dame.
MIT was the first to put up all of its courses online, but it was an expensive process. After seeing the potential in this program, USU got involved by developing eduCommons, which is software that many other universities now use to house their own OCW site. OpenCourseWare was developed to give other universities the chance to get involved for no cost at all. 
The India Times and Star Tribune of Minnesota and other newspapers around the world have picked up the story. The following is an excerpt written by the International Herald Tribune, a global version of the New York Times.
“Online learning is growing in many different contexts. Through the Open Courseware Consortium, started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, universities around the world have posted materials for thousands of courses — as widely varied as Utah State University's “Lambing and Sheep Management” and MIT's “Relativistic Quantum Field Theory” — all free to the public.”
For the past four years, Utah State has put 82 courses in 20 different departments online. An average of 20-25 courses are added each year. USU’s OCW gets close to 50,000 visitors a month to the site. Half of this traffic comes for the United States. The rest are people from 209 countries around the world.  

% New Visits


% New Visits
United States
86.74 %
88.88 %
83.12 %
89.63 %
88.17 %
United Kingdom
89.69 %
Hong Kong
87.75 %
87.46 %
91.94 %
South Korea
85.24 %

“Utah State University OpenCourseWare assures that no individual who is prepared and who desires the opportunity to advance his or her education is turned away,” USU President Stan Albrecht said. “It provides an unprecedented degree of free and open access to the knowledge and expertise of our faculty for the benefit of every citizen of the state of Utah and every person in the world.”
It is just as easy to share these courses with the people of the world as it is to share them with the people of Logan. China, India and Taiwan make up nearly 35 percent of international learners on the site. Other visitors on the site have come from countries such as Zambia, Lithuania, Mongolia and Malaysia.
The effects from Utah State placing their courses online have been positive. USU OpenCourseWare directors have received several contacts asking questions and giving thanks for the program.
“Right now we (as a country) really need to accelerate our ability and knowledge through information,” said Ferry Haris, a minister from the Communication and Information Technology, Republic of Indonesia. “But the problem is our network connectivity (Internet) to countries outside Indonesia is really bad. However the students here really need materials such as OpenCourseWare.”
Omowaiye Oluremi, representative from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in Nigeria, also contacted USU about making the program available to students in Africa.
USU directors sent them a copy of OCW so they could access courses without having to use the Internet.
One man sent an email saying: “Sir, I’m very happy to see a comprehensive website on economics offering free downloads of such useful courses. … Because of some people like you this world is still attractive to live in.”
Close to home, USU has created what is called the Utah OCW Alliance. This is a group of seven universities in Utah who have their own OSW site and have put at least 10 courses online. Combined, this alliance brings 151 courses available.
“Computer labs at schools in Logan City School Districts are some of the places where Latino families feel confident and come to learn,” said Hector Mendiola, USU Extension leader for Latino Communities. “This online education lets Mexican education partners offer better and available opportunities to help Latino’s education.”
Related link:
Contact: Marion Jensen, 435-797-3611,
Writer: Megan Hanselman (435) 797-1350,

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