A blog post I wrote for ChosonExchange.org, cross-posted from there. I'm going with Choson Exchange to Pyongyang in September -- my second trip to North Korea -- and I'm heading up their OpenCourseWare strategy.
Choson Exchange to Share Creative Commons Licensed Materials from the World's Best Universities With North Korea
Choson Exchange is committed to providing educational materials from the world's best educational institutions to North Korean students free of charge. This goal is made possible through the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative, in which dozens of top universities all around the world have chosen to post a large number of course materials such as lecture videos, lecture notes, handouts and assignments on the Internet under the Creative Commons open access license. This license gives people all over the world the ability to obtain a top-quality education for free, and gives professors the ability to legally reuse these materials and incorporate them into their own teaching.
Several other sources of top-quality educational materials are also available under Creative Commons licenses, such as lectures on a wide array of topics in mathematics, economics and finance from the Khan Academy, full high-quality textbooks on WikiBooks.org and encyclopedic content on Wikipedia.org. Recently, WikiBooks and Wikipedia added the ability to select sets of articles and have them assembled into a PDF format e-book for downloading, or these books can be easily printed, bound and shipped with a few mouse clicks through a company called Pedia Press. This provides an easy method for creation of high-quality printed textbooks or e-books that meet the content and pedagogical requirements of our North Korean colleagues.
Choson Exchange has been invited to present Open CourseWare content and e-books at the Pyongyang International Science and Technology Book Fair (PISTBF) in September 2010. The initial content that we will take to North Korea includes both OCW and Wikipedia/WikiBooks-sourced material in the subject areas of business, economics and finance; basic sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology; medicine, including first aid, physiology and gynaecology; computer science and engineering. We plan to bring both electronic copies of lecture videos and lecture notes as well as printed copies of some WikiBooks to use in exhibitions in Pyongyang and training programs.
The quality of many of the materials available through Creative Commons sources is very high. However no educational program can stand on the strength of the educational materials alone, there is a lot of structure and that has to be put in place for an educational program to succeed. For this reason, Choson Exchange is also committed to helping create and support the teaching infrastructure necessary to effectively kickstart training courses incorporating open content. To accomplish this, foreign advisors who are expert in each teaching area are being recruited to assist in helping their North Korean counterparts get up to speed with teaching the new academic material. We are confident this is the fastest way to improve the quality of education, and that improving education will improve quality of life and the level of wellbeing of the country.
Finally, North Korea is unprecedented in its culture and rich history. As we work with our North Korean colleagues to bring the highest quality Creative Commons academic materials from the best educational institutions to North Korea and help them to build programs that employ these resources, we would also like to work with them, if they choose, to contribute North Korean literature, cultural and academic course materials back into the body of Open CourseWare, so that the world can learn about the North Korean story directly from North Koreans themselves. This will add to the richness of the cultural tapestry that is the Creative Commons.
Posted by Luke Hutchison, Director of Educational Technologies for Choson Exchange