Open educational materials for an open society

Because free and open access to knowledge is critical for a free and open society, educators should be contributors to and supporters of free and open access to educational materials. So argues Carolina Rossini* in her article in this month’s Educause Review.

MIT’s OpenCourseWare project is the oldest and best known university initiative for open access educational materials, although others among Duke’s peer institutions also provide some open materials. The Open Learning Initiative at Harvard and Open Yale, for example, provide free video lectures of prominent faculty, white Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative offers full courses along with research data about the educational effectiveness of those courses.

In addition to university projects, organizations such Peer2Peer, Curriki, and Kahn Academy provide platforms and distribution models for open access educational materials.

Duke faculty participated in conversations around open educational materials last spring in response to talks by representatives of Connexions and Flatworld Knowledge at the 2010 CIT Showcase. We hope to continue that conversation this Fall and find out whether Duke faculty and students are interested in developing or using open access educational materials.

CIT would like to hear your opinions and ideas about how Duke should – or should not – connect with the open access education movement. Get in touch at

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*Carolina Rossini, a Brazilian lawyer and law professor, is currently a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, and Coordinator of OER-Brazil ( Her article Access to Knowledge as a Foundation for an Open World in Educause Review, Vol. 45, No. 4, July/August 2010 is part of a collection of articles which focus not only on open access projects but also philosophical questions about higher education and open access to educational materials.


Author: Lynne O Brien, Ph.D.

Lynne O'Brien is Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Services for Perkins Library at Duke University. She works with faculty, librarians, campus IT planners and academic technology groups around the country to develop programs to support the use of technology in teaching and research initiatives. Her interests include strategic planning for libraries and for academic technology, open access and open source educational materials and mobile learning.