Document Details

Title The Open Learning Initiative: Cognitively Informed E-Learning
Author Joel M. Smith, Candace Thille - Carnegie Mellon University (US)


The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a project devoted to developing “cognitively informed,” openly available online courses and course materials. It has the potential to have a profound impact on higher education by increasing access, enhancing quality and providing new paradigms for online courses and course materials. The authors of this report are the Chief Information Officer and the Director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the project is housed. We will describe how we have made use of experts in and information from contemporary cognitive and learning sciences to produce high quality eLearning courses and course materials. Our efforts tell a story about meeting an important challenge for the next generation of eLearning: transferring scientific knowledge developed in research contexts into online learning practices. While research scientists are centrally involved in this process, ultimately, it is often the content experts, project managers, and course development staff who translate and apply theoretical findings to concrete educational settings. We believe that, for this type of novel approach to ultimately succeed, the course development process must be an irreducibly iterative one. To this end, we have structured many kinds of feedback loops to determine where applications of theory have worked and where alternatives must be tried.

Date 01/10/2004
Region(s) North America
Countries United States
Theme(s) Technology
Topic(s) Open Content Initiatives, E-learning Delivery, Policy & Management

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