There’s been a bit of ennui about institutional approaches to open content in the blogosphere lately, so it was interesting to see this preliminary data regarding OCW production come in last Thursday. The data set generating this graph is not completely clean yet, but it’s pretty close. The graph represents the number of courses published by OCWC members, as a cumulative total, month by month. Some of the smoothing over the last twelve months is the result of not being able to place all releases of the individual courses in a particular month, in which case they were dispersed over the known release time frame — but, even given that, I think the trends are unmistakable:
The most striking thing to me about this is how quickly other members’ contributions are dwarfing MIT’s piece of this. People sometimes still refer to the OCWC mistakenly as an “extension of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project”. Organizationally, that became history when the Consortium was founded as a separate organization, operating under its own governance, in July of this year. But the data above shows that even before the organizational change was formalized our members’ efforts were the driving force behind the OCWC.
The second thing of interest is the larger significance. There’s a way in which this is graphing the height of an iceberg from sea level. That peak there represents nearly 8,000 courses — but associated with those courses are thousands of professors who have now participated in an open education project, ten of thousands of professors that have been exposed to the concept of sharing these materials, and hundreds of thousands of students in these classes who have learned through the example of their institution that knowledge is a thing to be shared, not hoarded. Add to that the millions of people outside these institutions who have hit these courses from all over the world, and who have even come to expect such materials will be available, and we are talking a massive tectonic-scale shift in the expectations we are creating about knowledge.