Gary Matkin has been involved with open education from the beginning. Here, he discusses the current issues and predicts the demise of Moocs. Read on for a fascinating insight into the future of open education.
Sramana: Gary, let’s set some context for our readers. Could you describe your role at UC Irvine and what you are doing for online education?
Gary Matkin: UC Irvine has been providing coursework online for about 14 years. My role at UC Irvine is Dean of Continuing Education, which covers all aspects of continuing education such as distance learning and summer sessions. Those units have provided the bulk of the online and open learning opportunities at the campus.
In extension, we offer 800 online courses per year. That is half of our offering to the continuing education audience. That audience consists primarily of working adults who are coming back to us to get additional education, change careers, or update their careers. Sometimes they are also there just to have some fun learning.
The Distance Learning Center, which I direct, is the service center for the UCI. It produces and delivers online courses. Most of our regular courses for traditional degree students are online courses for summer sessions. UCI has the largest number of online summer courses and enrollments in the UC system. Our online summer offering is as large as all of the other UC summer courses combined. Summer session has been a big part of what we have been doing.
In addition to our online offerings, UCI has been a leader in open education since 2000. We have been in that space ever since and we were in that space before MIT announced their program in 2001. More recently, we have produced 14 massive open online courses (MOOCs), most of them for SARA. We also offer video lecture capture series including the entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum, which is offered open in terms of video lectures on YouTube. We have over 750 hours of lectures on YouTube. We have 100,000 users viewing our YouTube offerings every month for a total of a million minutes a month. We are very much into the open education space, and we have been leaders in that space from the beginning.
Sramana: Let me double click down on some of those areas. Since the last thing you talked about is open education courseware as well as MOOC, can you tell us more what the driver there is? Are the courses you are providing able to earn students credits? Is there any kind of testing and certification offered in conjunction with that open coursework?
Gary Matkin: The real imperative is what may be called universal access. The notion that everyone will be able to learn anything, anywhere at any time for free is not just a goal of society. It is also a conviction. Where it is possible for people to learn without paying for anything, in an open way, is an imperative that is there to stay. My prediction is that every university will be both a producer and consumer of open courseware and open education resources.