Harvard H2O Projects

Mar 26 2003 Kelly Norton
Ripped from /. (“slashdot”) :
“The H2O project is building an interlocking collection of communities based on the free creation and exchange of ideas.”
Pseudo-open courseware seems to be all the rage these days in Boston. It is somewhat predictable that the most effective electronic learning enhancement systems have been embarrassingly simplistic. For example, I used Mark Guzdial's SWIKI down at Georgia Tech and found it pretty effective despite the fact that it basically consists of a text area for changing the text on a web page (backed by RCS so that you can remove the occasional “I 0wn j00” comment). It turns out that the simplicity and lack of form in the discussion prompts a learner to organize his/her thoughts, which results in a process like textual mind mapping. This depresses the software developer in me who insists that a decision tree should be somewhere in the mix.
Of course, the MIT open courseware project is something slightly different, a repository of course materials. I'm sure it is backed with a tool (or human resource) for entering all that information without having professors working in HTML. Which is a good thing, trust me (the color spectrum is richer than cyan and magenta). I suspect projects like this will eventually be the death of the print encyclopedia market. Where I once grabbed an encyclopedia to figure out where to find information on a topic, I now google (so far copyright law permits).