Frequently Asked Questions


What is Open Education Week?

Open Education Week is celebrated from March 11-15, 2013. This year, from OpenVideo Sudan to the Khan Academy to the Merlot repository project, you can both discover new content and courses or find out how open education is making a difference in the world. Open Education Week is organized by the OpenCourseWare Consortium, a global organization of 300+ universities and institutions.

What is OpenCourseWare?

OpenCourseWare is a ten-year-old project that has, as its mission, making the "education" in higher education accessible and affordable to anyone who wants it. The University of California, Irvine has been engaged in a variety of projects, from open textbooks to special resources for potential California math and science teachers during this time. The latest and largest effort, OpenChem, has been to make available a full undergraduate curriculum's worth of classroom video lectures. While we haven't knocked down all obstacles, we have a baseline of quality instruction that a university or college, a professor, or a learner could follow, either in part or in whole. See Ken Janda, a Chemistry professor and Dean of the School of Physical Sciences, talk about the future of this project here.

What do you mean by "open?" Do you means like EdX or Coursera?

Not really. We use Creative Commons licenses to permit others to make use of our materials without advance permission, so long as they are abiding by the requirements of attribution and sharing this resources with others only under the same license. What you don't have to do is arrive at business terms or email to ask for permission or wait for a start date for a lecture to be available. That's what "open" means and we sincerely hope that learners and institutions will take full advantage of these materials in areas like physical sciences, biological sciences, humanities, social ecology, and law.

Which courses are included in the UCI's OpenChem initiative?

The selected courses include all required lecture courses that a UCI undergraduate needs for the Chemistry major. Additionally, a number of electives, including some graduate courses, are included. See the current list here. Each course is listed according to its position in a sample undergraduate path for Chemistry majors.

What will UCI OpenCourseWare do next? Are there other projects like OpenChem on the horizon

We could tell you, but then... Seriously, the answer is yes. But we don't tend to pre-announce, so please stay tuned and visit UCI OpenCourseWare to see the latest.

Why is UCI offering its Chemistry lectures for free?

There is both a history to this specific project with the filming of the first quarter of Organic Chemistry (Chem 51a) in 2009. That story is told here. The lectures were posted to YouTube and became something of a hit. Because these lectures were so useful for UCI students who miss a class or want to review for the midterm or final, Professor Nowick became interested in publishing more of his classes. With the Internet and YouTube as the vehicle for publication, the additional cost of making available his classes to the entire world was close to zero. He soon realized that he was supporting a global community of learners and his enthusiasm translated to a departmental commitment in 2012 to publish the undergraduate curriculum through UCI's OpenCourseWare project.

Okay, but, really, why is it free?

Because in the openly licensed format (CC-BY-SA 3.0, attribution required, sharealike), UCI contributes to global chemistry education at no marginal cost to itself beyond the already completed filming. Our own students also benefit by being able to review presentations and because it is available on YouTube, we don't have to worry about maintaining it on course pages behind password protection. By making it open, another institution or professor can use some or all of the video presentations without even having to contact us for permission. So we are fulfilling the mission of a land-grant, public university effectively and efficiently.

Are there other subjects that will follow OpenChem? Isn't Chemistry enough?

Seriously, the answer is yes. We are constantly in discussions with UCI schools and departments and are aware of other opportunities from subjects in which one or more courses may already have been filmed. Stay tuned for announcements on the OpenCourseWare website.

Can we provide feedback?

Yes, there is a page on our website for comments: http://ocw.uci.edu/info/testimonials.aspx.