We are delighted to announce that we have managed to get a selection of open educational resource sites omitted from the student internet quota. When a student at UCT accesses the web they are using a monthly quota that is allocated to them, and when it runs out they are unable to access global sites. This is necessary as bandwidth availability has traditionally been an issue in South Africa and it also costs a fortune for the university.
Recently we heard the call from students who have used up their quota accessing educational materials from other institutions. One such student had been using video recorded mathematics lectures from MIT to supplement his own study at UCT. The videos had been recommended by the course tutor as a useful resource.
As you might imagine, videos take a great deal of bandwidth and the student eventually ran out near the end of the month.
The availability of educational resources from other institutions may enhance the student experience at UCT. In addition to all of the great books we have in the library and internet journals and databases I believe we should also be making some of the wonderful worldwide OER available to our students.
And we did it! We have managed to get a selection of open educational resource sites whitelisted on the UCT network. This means students will not affect their quota when accessing these sites.
http://ocw.mit.edu – MIT OpenCourseWare project
http://ocw.jhsph.edu – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s OpenCourseWare
http://openlearn.open.ac.uk – Open educational resources from the Open University, UK
http://ocw.tufts.edu – Open educational resources from Tufts University
http://www.oerafrica.org South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) open educational resources project
http://www.ted.com/talks – From what I understand the Ted lectures are also omitted from the internet quota!
Most of the resources on these sites are text, pdf, or powerpoint presentations, with the exception of MIT which offers quite a few video lectures. I strongly believe that whitelisting these domains will increase the quality of teaching and learning at UCT, and demonstrate to students that we are committed to open education and knowledge sharing globally.
This is a wonderful achievement for the OpenContent project and an incredibly forward thinking move by UCT admin. Thanks especially to Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) for making this happen.