Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association

MBPGSA Blog

Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

Web 2.0 and Open Learning

This is more of an informative post than anything. As graduate students, I would assume that most of us are life long learners and pride ourselves in our capacity to understand new things. Unfortunately for us, our education has been expensive. Even as graduate students, we somehow find $3500 a term disappearing from our bank accounts for tuition.

Luckily enough for future generations, I think there may be a trend towards cheaper (or free), less formal education with the evolution of Web 2.0. For example, I recently came across a resource on the web, offering an entire Webinar on Technology Transfer for free. For those of you also interested in this career (or if you're just interested in intellectual property and/or business for that matter) I would recommend checking it out.

You can find it here: http://bit.ly/axxIMa

Simply create a free account with a username and password and you`ll have access to the entire course which includes slides and audio lectures. It is offered by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Technology Transfer in the United States - Kudos to them. However, some of the intricacies of patent and business law discussed are different in the States, but most of the material applies here in Canada as well.

I had a discussion about this website with a friend and he mentioned there were a number of initiatives like it spearheaded by large academic institutions in the U.S. (and possibly in Canada?). I was curious about this, so I did a little digging and to my surprise- and probably to many of you- there are actually MANY full length courses, including video and audio (even assignments and tests!) posted online for FREE by colleges like Yale and MIT.

I think this is great and although most of the courses are basic first year classes, there are definitely some gems to be found.

Here is the link to the Yale open learning website : http://bit.ly/R2LFr and MIT: http://bit.ly/33VIo

These sites are supplemented by iTunes libraries and YouTube channels. It appears that at least some academic institutions are embracing social media and web 2.0. I'm wondering, however, what exactly is their motivation for doing this? Do they believe that it will attract extra students because only the most basic courses are offered and they will want more? Is it in preparation for charging students for access? Are they going to adopt a "youtube" model of revenue (ie Ads) Or is this a truly altruistic act? Somehow I doubt it... I'd love to hear some of your opinions.