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This Week at the Center: June 12, 2014

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The role technology can play in building a sustainable credentialing practice for teaching was on our minds this week as several Center staff members participated in the Open Syllabus Project's first workshop and hackathon June 6-7. The event was devoted to thinking through the social, legal, institutional, and technical challenges associated with the project, which is an effort to create the first large-scale online database of university course syllabi as a platform for the development of new research, teaching, and administrative tools.

We’ve seen the value of this type of repository in our work here at the Center, where we have created a number of different types of educational resource repositories, including one for syllabi and assignments used extensively by faculty and administrators at the School of Social Work. The Social Work Commons has helped build a conversation around teaching practices by giving instructors a place to share, search, and comment on instructional materials.

Similarly, the Open Syllabus Project sees its corpus, now numbering about 1.5 million syllabi, as the basis for developers to build applications that will open “the curricular black box for students, faculty, and researchers.” At the workshop, participants discussed benefits to teaching as varied as establishing new publication metrics based on the most widely taught texts and tracking the evolution and content of disciplinary fields. As the OSP team stressed many times during the day, this is not a new idea; many universities have started their own open syllabus repositories, and OSP Advisory Board member Dan Cohen relied upon many of these in creating his own million syllabus repository in 2011.

Also This Week: In celebration of the Edward M. Kennedy prize play All the Way's Tony wins, CCNMTL released new footage of cast members discussing the play and its relationship to history with playwright Robert Schenkken, and Lyndon Johnson biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. The footage accompanies the public educational website the Center developed for the Kennedy Prize winning plays. . . . The Center welcomed visitors from the University of Capetown to discuss our online learning, blended learning, and MOOC initiatives.