Middle East a Growing Source of Free Online Educational Content

KFUPM, Open University of Israel, Middle East Technical University leading the region in providing open educational resources

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 4& - Mesopotamia has long been acknowledged as the cradle of civilization, and the Middle East is home to historical centers of learning including Alexandria and Baghdad. Now, the Middle East is emerging as educational leader in the digital age through the provision of open educational content online. With the recent launch of its OpenCourseWare site, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals becomes the most recent university in the region to join the global movement toward open sharing of educational content online. KFUPM OpenCourseWare contains Arabic and English language materials from approximately 80 KFUPM courses, spanning disciplines including engineering, sciences and industrial management.

OpenCourseWare is a movement to share the core academic materials-including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams--from courses at universities around the world freely and openly on the web. The materials are typically published under open licenses that support the reuse and redistribution of the content for formal and informal learning around the world. The OpenCourseWare concept was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 and MIT's OpenCourseWare site now includes materials from virtually the entire MIT curriculum. In 2005, leading universities in the movement came together to form the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which now includes top schools from China, Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the United States. Collectively the members publish materials from more than 7,800 courses, accessible through the Consortium's web site.

KFUPM joins other leading universities in the Middle East as a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium. In addition to KFUPM, the Consortium membership also includes the Open University of Israel and its Open Book Project, which plans to publish courseware and more than 500 textbooks in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. The Middle East Technical University, also a member of the Consortium, leads a coalition of Turkish universities engaged in open education and publishes material from 23 courses through METU OpenCourseWare. Other members of the Consortium from the region include Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (Iran), International University of Iran - Farabi Institute of Higher Education, Global University (Lebanon), and Alfaisal University (Saudi Arabia).

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 250 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware. The goals of the Consortium are to extend the reach and impact of opencourseware by encouraging the adoption and adaptation of open educational materials around the world; foster the development of additional opencourseware projects; and ensure the long-term sustainability of opencourseware projects by identifying ways to improve effectiveness and reduce costs.