21.06.2002 -

Experts to Assess impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education

In a unprecedented move, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last year announced that it will put online the substance of nearly all its courses during the coming few years. As the number of academic courses freely available on the Net is rapidly increasing, a UNESCO Forum will look at the impact of open courseware on higher education in developing countries.

The three-day Forum at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (1-3 July 2002) will bring together twenty experts from developing and industrialized countries. It is receiving financial support and co-operation from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the USA based Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET).


The potential of open courseware for universities in developing countries is great but major challenges remain as to how to ensure their full participation as producers as well as consumers of it. It is hoped that the Forum will lay the basis for concerted international cooperation in this important area.


The term "open courseware" refers to making the substance of academic courses freely available, typically via the Internetand the Web. The courseware might include lecture material, references and readings, simulations, experiments and demonstrations, all available to be used or adapted by faculties or individuals anywhere in the world, at no charge for educational, non-commercial use.

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