The Harvard Extension Open Courseware Project

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The idea is to start an Open Courseware initiative for Harvard Extension school. Particularly, I would like to target the course videos for distance education courses as ideal material that could be shared with minimal effort. It seems to me like the argument for this is very strong -- Harvard Extension exists to allow a wider audience access to a Harvard Education.

  • Some points:
  • Something makes me uneasy about Harvard excersizing too much intellectual property rights in its courses. Obviously, professors and the school do a lot of work to put the classes together. However, Harvard classes would not be possible without the great intellectual commons of the arts and sciences, the sum of human knowledge built up over the centuries. It seems to me that the way we earn our legacy of knowledge is to share it.

Ideas for how to start

  • Contact MIT, Harvard Medical School Open Courseware project leaders for advice (NOT DONE YET)
  • Determine whose approval and support we need from within the Extension School (NOT DONE YET)
  • Locate sources for funding (NOT DONE YET)

Overall Strategy

My thought is that perhaps it would be possible to get the extension school to deeply engage in this. After all, if we look at the tradition in which Harvard Extension was created, it was all about sharing the fruits of knowledge to a wider audience. We could try contacting:

  • The Dean
  • The Division of Continuing Education (DCE)
  • The IT guys/whoever currently does production+internet distribution of the video course materials -- If they got excited about it, they might be strong advocates for our technical feasability


There are obviously a number of technical aspects to this. The software platform needs to be integrated into professors' existing practices as well as possible. Hosting, editing, file formats, etc all need to be dealt with.


Please list yourself here if you are interested in helping with this project.

Useful links