The Impact of Open Source

The open source course that I choose to review is an Urban Studies course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Open Courseware) titled Targeting the Poor: Local Economic Development in Developing Countries ( The course is a graduate level course and was first offered in the spring of 2010. From a general standpoint the course appears to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment using e-learning standards for an open education course. The MASIE Center identified five abilities that e-learning standards should facilitate (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015).

Development Standard Description
Interoperability Can the system work with any other system?
Reusability Can courseware (learning objects, or chunks) be reused?
Manageability Can a system track the appropriate information about the learner and the content?
Accessibility Can a learner access the appropriate content at the appropriate time?
Durability Will the technology evolve with the standards to avoid obsolescence?

The Masie Center is an international think tank focused on how organizations can support learning and knowledge within the workforce (The MASIE Center, 2015). As I navigated through the MITOPENCOURSEWARE site perusing for a course to review I noticed a common template for each course. Having course development standards is essential for the success of the knowledge economy and for the future of learning (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015). The standards also reduces the cognitive load of the learner when taking courses at MIT or just navigating through the course offerings. The course also contained the basic components which are the course description, syllabus, calendar, readings, assignments, student projects and course material to download. The illustration below shows the standard course template used by MITOPENCOURSEWARE (MIT Open Courseware, 2010).

MIT Open Courseware callouts


The learner can view the course description which provides a brief overview of what information will be taught in the course. The syllabus provides the course meeting times, topics covered, course requirements and the how the learner would be graded.

This course uses a systematic process of design and it is evident that the components of the learning system are considered. The components of a successful learning system are the learners, the content, the methods and the materials and the environment, including the technology (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015). The interaction of these components produces the kind of learning experience vital for student learning (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015). From my review of this this course I understood what would be required of me as the learner. The calendar provides details on what instruction would be covered in each session. Student assessment was required and identified in the Assignments section. A student presentation was required at the end of the course. This is a recommendation by Graham, Cagiltay, Lim, Craner, and Duffy in defining seven lessons for online instruction. (Simonson, Smaldino, Zvacek, 2015).

One thing that this course did not employ was key multimedia components which are essential to a well-designed course. There were no videos, animations, photographs, or audio components. From my perspective this made the course less engaging. The learner would have to really be self-motivated to stay engaged in this course. Overall I thought this was a well-designed online open source course that adhered to the open course and online standards for instruction.


MIT Open Courseware – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2010). Targeting the Poor: Local Economic Development in Developing Countries. Retrieved from

The MASIE Center (2015). Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

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