Royal Roads University Open Courseware Initiative


A pitch is presented to make the case for Royal Roads University to establish an Open Courseware initiative.


Referring to the successful open courseware initiative at MIT, the pitcher presents some compelling arguments in favour of her venture. She suggests that providing open access to courses will help with student and faculty recruitment and the marketing of Royal Roads’ high-quality programming thereby enhancing the university’s reputation. Additional benefits of using open courseware are also mentioned including increased global access and contributions being made to the building of a learning society. The pitcher also sets up and proceeds to knock down what could be the two greatest arguments against the open courseware initiative: a possible decrease in tuition paid by those who are content to learn for free and the chance that others could steal content and profit by resale. According to the pitcher, academic credit is not given to students who don’t pay tuition and course content is subject to copyright laws.

Interestingly, only seven minutes were used to pitch the idea and, as an EVA, I felt the pitcher left me hanging with too many unanswered questions. For example, the pitch provides no information regarding how the plans will be carried out, so an EVA is left wondering what types of resources are necessary to start and maintain the venture. Since the initiative has already been implemented at MIT, it would  help to have highlighted what kind of return was seen on their investment. Lastly, while the pitcher promotes Royal Roads as a place of innovation, specifics regarding the qualifications personnel that will potentially run the venture were missing from the pitch.

Overall, I would not be willing to risk my investment capital on this proposition mostly because I think MIT already has the stronghold on this market. No offense to Royal Roads, but MIT is a well-known and prestigious institute. If people simply want to use Open Courseware for learning, they’ll turn to MIT first. After all, it is free. While I acknowledge that Royal Roads might be rewarded with a modest increase in student recruitment through this venture, I think there might be other ways to promote and market a university if they wish to increase the number of paying students.


1 Stuart Edgar { 09.17.09 at 12:35 pm }

Hello, Erik.
I agree with most of your points here, but I’m not sure I would agree with what you said in your last paragraph. The benefit that Royal Roads will see from offering open courseware will not have to come from attracting people who would otherwise have gone to MIT for information. If people want to use open courseware for informal learning then they could theoretically get it for free from both MIT and Royal Roads. The benefit was partly to come from potential students who are already considering studying at Royal Roads, letting them see the course material before they enrol.
I also think that MIT and Royal Roads offer different kinds of programs and it isn’t a question of winning over the students who are trying to decide which one to attend.

2 Erik Van Dusen { 09.17.09 at 7:48 pm }

Hi Stuart. Thanks for your comment. You could be right. I do see the value in allowing prospective students to sample course material at RR, but I do question whether a significant financial investment is required to do so. Couldn’t RR simply roll a few courses into a LMS like Moodle, and offer guest access? This is a relatively cheap alternative that is at least worth a try.

On the other hand, I’ve never heard of RR until now and maybe this (open courseware) is truly what is required in order make their institution a household name. Decisions, decisions.

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