The Impact of Open Source

Open Yale Courses: A free open website offering a number of introductory courses taught by Yale University professors.


I chose one of the open Yale course, titled, Africa American History; from emancipation to present.  Clearly the university did not utilize a learning management system for delivery, instead the course was designed on a webpage with no clear outline, except for four tabs at the top of the page; syllabus, sessions, survey, and buy books. Simonson 2012, proposed that distance delivered courses often do not utilize class sessions, and further suggest that the topic should be fundamental building blocks for instruction.  Topics should be organized in modules that are further organized into units. It was obvious that this course was not carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment. There were no clear directions as to where to go next, so I choose to look at the syllabus, which was limited with no defined expectation or requirements on a weekly bases. “Instructors of online courses must make the course organization, calendar, activities, and expectations as clear as possible” (Simonson, et al, 2012).

I had no idea why I would need to learn the information offered in this course except for an interest in the topic. Detailed assignment instructions are important and should include a grading scheme that can be easily located by the student.   As I continued through the course I realized that the course was a direct transfer of the face-to-face lectures to an online delivery. Simonson, 2012, suggested that one of the fundamentals of teaching online is to avoid dumping face-to-face courses onto the web. He further stated that, “The term shovel ware has evolved to describe this practice: shovel the course onto the web and say you are teaching online.” “Online activities for students should have specific pedagogical or course management purposes.” Simonson, et al, 2012.

Next I choose the sessions’ tab, which was merely a list of 25 lectures that were delivered in a classroom setting by the instructor. The designers did not implement course activities to maximize active learning. Each sessions were delivered in the same way, via prerecorded videos. However, the lecture pages did offer an overview with reading assignments. At the bottom of the page students could also choose html format or an mp3 audio versions of the lectures. Students are given a reading assignment for each lecture session and are allowed to move to next session or previous via links at the top of the page. There were no opportunities to interact with the instructor of other students in the class. Ross and Kemp (2004) suggest that learners need to understand the instructor’s intent when participating in any learning environment.  When they understand the intent or reason why they are participating in the instruction or activity they are better able to use that experience to explore their own learning.  Using a course management system would enable the instructor of this conventional face-to-face course to provide learning resources and conduct course-related activities, such as discussion and testing, outside of the classroom setting.

The designers or instructor for this course needed to take the time to conduct strategic planning and organize the learning experience to effectively deliver instruction is an online environment. They needed to move from the traditional approach to a more effective learning approach that is focused on student learning and less on delivery. Well-designed courses provide students with engaging learning experiences.


Open Yale Courses: A free open website offering a number of introductory courses taught by Yale University professors.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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