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Dec 07 2011 - 03:26 PM
EdLab Review: OpenCulture
Openculture.com is a free content curator run out of (but not affiliated with) Stanford University. Although it casts a wide cultural net, the focus is on educational materials. Pros: The site collects a wide variety of educational resources, including online courses, audiobooks, movies, ebooks, etc. It has an active Internet presence to draw users in, including a twitter feed and google+ page. The content is full without being overwhelming, with a particularly strong showing in free online courses and textbooks. The catalog is fairly diverse, and includes resources from a few nooks and crannies in the internet it would be tough to track down on your own, so in that regard OpenCulture can be a real time-saver. Cons: Certain areas, including free ebooks, are quite thin, although not much more could be added on without requiring a more sophisticated interface. The website is somewhat cluttered with ads, and the content categories are organized only as long lists. EdLab Relevance: The supply of free educational materials readily available these days, as has been discussed before, seems to have rapidly outpaced demand. The issue with implementing the kind of transformation that educational Internet resources should provide does not seem to lie with the problem OpenCulture solves (putting them online). What's necessary, perhaps, is a much more robust institutional framework that will guide (and push) the student through the appropriate courses, textbooks, and tools. Without such a framework, I can't see websites like OpenCulture having much impact (except, perhaps, on the procrastination habits of dilettantes). Our Takeaway: My guess is people will come for the movies, and stay for the courses, I couldn't help but view this website as bound up with the issue of self-motivation. Without a strong desire to learn, I fear that users will inevitably drift towards the “junk food” part of the buffet.
Posted in: EdTech ReviewNew Learning Times|By: Fred Rossoff|4723 Reads