At first, I was thinking – of what quality can these free courses and material possibly be? I mean, it is for free. You cannot possibly spend enough time and energy to make this worth the while for the learner. Then I started doing some research on the various websites that were mentioned in the webinar. And I was fascinated by especially the edx.org website. The institutions providing the “free” courses and sharing their material, resources and content include Harvard University, University of Queensland Australia, University of Washington, Boston University and many more. How will these universities compromise on quality and credibility? It is impossible. So I enrolled for a few of these free courses and am fascinated by the openness and what they share. I am inspired!! To say the least. I realized that when you are willing to share with others in the academia, they might also become willing to share with you. The extent of openness these universities have, is amazing.
I think that I am very open in sharing my own work. But this within our institution with the various campuses around the country. It adds a lot of value to your own material when you get the input of others. I am wondering though… If you do decide to share with people outside of your institution whether this is not the intellectual property of your institution? Or maybe this is just an issue in South Africa. So I do think if you want to go this route it might be important to go through the right channels and make sure what you do is actually legal.
On another note… I started my own business where I aim to do corporate training throughout Africa. In this case I am however not willing to share as this is my income/money. And that might be how the institution feels, even though we (getting paid a salary) feel that we are willing to share, it affects the institution in a totally different way. So maybe I am not so open minded when it comes to sharing after all… But I think it would be helpful to build a network of people that would be willing to also share with me – this will encourage me to share.
I do think that this is a great marketing opportunity. To get out there and give people a “taster” of what you have to offer them. And this might be one of the reasons why institutions are doing this. However, once again, because this is for free, you might compromise on quality, which could damage your reputation and hence the risk/danger in sharing and openness.