Over the past decade, a small revolution has taken place at some of the world's leading universities, as they have started to provide free access to undergraduate course materials--including syllabi, assignments, and lectures--to anyone with an Internet connection. Yale offers high-quality audio and video recordings of a careful selection of popular lectures, MIT supplies digital materials for nearly all of its courses, Carnegie Mellon boasts a purpose-built interactive learning environment, and some of the most selective universities in India have created a vast body of online content in order to reach more of the country's exploding student population. Although they don't offer online credit or degrees, efforts like these are beginning to open up elite institutions--and may foreshadow significant changes in the way all universities approach teaching and learning. Unlocking the Gates is one of the first books to examine this important development.
Drawing on a wide range of sources, including extensive interviews with university leaders, Taylor Walsh traces the evolution of these online courseware projects and considers the impact they may have, both inside elite universities and beyond. As economic constraints and concerns over access demand more efficient and creative teaching models, these early initiatives may lead to more substantial innovations in how education is delivered and consumed--even at the best institutions. Unlocking the Gates tells an important story about this form of online learning--and what it might mean for the future of higher education.
Taylor Walsh writes on behalf of Ithaka S+R, a not-for-profit strategy and research service that supports innovation in the academic community.
"By now, books, articles and blogs about the virtues and vices of online distance learning are hardly new, and are frequently repetitive. But Taylor Walsh's Unlocking the Gates is different. She analyses in great detail the varied experiences of a small number of elite US, UK and Indian universities that, starting in 1999, began to offer some, if not all, of their undergraduate courses online to varying audiences. Walsh has done extensive research--including interviews with 87 educational and business leaders--in this pioneering, unbiased study. . . . A solid, pioneering contribution to the study of online higher education and will surely become the benchmark for later studies."--Howard P. Segal, Times Higher Education
"For anyone looking for an insight into some of the issues lying underneath western higher education, they would do well to pick up a copy of Unlocking the Gates. Taylor Walsh's work may only focus on one particular phenomenon but it acts as a lens through which to examine some key challenges facing institutions: how to have a global impact whilst also serving your local students, how to do more with less in times of reducing budgets and endowments, and how higher education can and should change to become fit for the 21st century."--Rachel Dearlove, Impact of Social Sciences, London School of Economics blog
"The enabling of open access to learning materials from a range of international higher education providers, at least those that choose to share, means that, provided the technology exists to enable access, potential scholars from around the world can use them to learn and grow in ways not previously available to them. And that it why it is worth reading this book."--Kevin Ashford-Rowe, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Table of Contents:
Foreword by William G. Bowen vii
Chapter 1: Introduction: Context and Background 1
Chapter 2: Early Experiments: Fathom and AllLearn 23
Chapter 3: Free and Comprehensive: MIT's OpenCourseWare 57
Chapter 4: Digital Pedagogy: Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative 89
Chapter 5: Quality over Quantity: Open Yale Courses 122
Chapter 6: A Grassroots Initiative: webcast.berkeley 150
Chapter 7: Closing the Gap in India: The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning 178
Chapter 8: Conclusions 206
Epilogue: Implications for the Future 247
List of Interviews 277
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by William G. Bowen: