Ada’s Empathetic Argument for Open Courseware


  1. oliverday

    November 6, 2006 @ 8:47 am

  2. rebeccanesson

    November 16, 2006 @ 7:38 am


    Ada, your podcast is a beautiful statement of the open courseware/at-large issue. You start with what Professor Nesson says is important to be persuasive: by giving a real sense of yourself. You don’t just present yourself in a surface way. You do it in a way that really lets the listener connect to you. This was very powerful for me listening to the podcast. What is interesting to me is that although the substance of this introduction was relevant to the topic of the podcast, I don’t think it was the substance of your introduction that made me think that I wanted to hear what you had to say about open courseware. Instead it was that I felt like I was listening to a real person who was willing to put herself a bit on the line to say what she had to say.

    The argument you make for open courseware did a good job of empathizing with professors and universities and their fears about opening up their materials to the public. You also make a good case for why their fears should be outweighed by the benefits. As you know, I care a lot about this issue and I think I will have to make this argument over the course of the next few years. One thing that I’m stuck on is that universities can currently make money by offering their courses at a cut rate for people who want to take them non-credit. Although we have been very careful to make sure that the non-credit students in our class get benefits that a non-paying student could not get, the distinction between non-credit paying students and at-large participants is slim. While we can appeal to universities on the grounds that the loss of that income is outweighed by the benefits, if the person making the decision cares most about the bottom line I’m still not sure I’ve got something to offer them in terms of why this would be the more lucrative way to go. I think perhaps it could be because of the much broader attention that this could attract, but it seems like a tenuous argument.

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