eduCommons offers the following introductory answers to Frequently Asked Questions about how visitors to the site can make use of course materials, what technology we use to publish the eduCommons site, and 43 other common inquiries we receive. Click on a subject heading below to view questions and answers relating to your selection.
This document provides help for United Nations University's OpenCourseWare site in the form of a list of frequently asked questions and answers. If you have other questions about this site please email email@example.com.
The idea behind UNU OCW is to make course materials that are used by UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. UNU OCW will advance technology-enhanced education at UNU, and will serve as a model for dissemination of knowledge in the Internet age. This venture continues UNU's tradition of open dissemination of educational materials, philosophy, and modes of thought, and will help lead to fundamental changes in the way the Web is utilized as a vehicle for education.
Because technology makes it possible for us to increase the reach of educational opportunity, we have a moral obligation to do so. UNU OCW supports UNU's mission to serve the public through learning, discovery, and engagement, and is true to a UNU guiding principle that academics are of the utmost importance. UNU OCW contributes to the "shared intellectual commons" in academia, which fosters collaboration across UNU and among other scholars, across disciplines and around the world.
UNU OCW differs from other Web-based education offerings in that it is free and open, does not provide university credit, and grants no access to university faculty. UNU OCW is not a distance-learning initiative. Distance learning involves the active exchange of information between faculty and students, with the goal of obtaining some form of a credential. Increasingly, distance learning is also limited to those willing and able to pay for materials or course delivery. UNU OCW is not meant to replace degree-granting higher education or for-credit courses. Rather, the goal is to provide the content that supports an education.
Many individual instructors at UNU and other universities already use the Web extensively to make standard course materials available to their students. Some colleges and universities now require a Web site for every class. But, to a large extent, these Web sites are designed for, and access is only provided to, the students enrolled at these institutions. UNU OCW is an unprecedented effort of a much broader magnitude, as the goal is to provide the course materials free and open to the world.
We expect UNU OCW to grow to encompass the course materials of all Research and Training Centres and Programmes who are willing to participate. Over time, the goal is for most of the courses offered at UNU to be represented in the collection. Another goal of UNU OCW is to catalyze the development of groups or communities around the course materials. Individuals participating in these informal groups will coach, mentor, and support each other in their learning, adding significant value to the materials themselves. Finally, we strongly desire to extend the reach and impact of the "opencourseware" concept.
We are committed to UNU OCW remaining a free and openly available publication of the course materials that support the dynamic classroom interactions of a UNU education. Even as we continue to grow and evolve, the materials will always remain free and open to all. Along with this commitment to remaining free and open, UNU OCW is also committed to the idea that UNU OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting initiative, and that there will not be a registration process required for users to view course materials now or in the future. UNU OCW is working hard to publish all of the course materials utilized by UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes who wish to participate.
Because UNU OCW is not a distance-learning or a degree-granting initiative, there is no registration process required for users to view course materials. UNU OCW is a publication of the course materials that support the dynamic classroom interactions of UNU education. UNU OCW is available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world.
To find what courses are available at this time, view the complete course list. Once you have accessed a particular course site, the left-hand navigation bar of each course homepage will detail what materials are available for that individual course.
You can, utilize the Search function that can be found in the right-hand corner of every page on the UNU OCW site. You can search for specific text, such as a certain academic discipline area, across all courses or within just one course. Or to perform a detailed search, use our Advanced Search.
Or, to see what courses are available you may click on Courses in the top navigation bar on every page of the UNU OCW Web site. This will allow you to view the list of currently available courses.
UNU OCW can be considered a large-scale, Web-based publication of the course materials that support a UNU education. Educators are encouraged to utilize the materials for curriculum development, students can augment their current learning by making use of the materials offered, and self-learners are encouraged to draw upon the UNU OCW for self-study or supplementary use. Course materials offered on the UNU OCW Web site may be used within the license associated with the content, course or overall UNU OCW site, as applicable.
Because UNU OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, there is no registration process required for users to view course materials. There are also no prerequisites for users who utilize UNU OCW course materials in their own learning. However, each course site indicates the prerequisites and corequisites that are required of students in the UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes.
UNU OCW does not sell, offer vendor discounts for, or represent any vendor who may sell the software, books, or other materials that users of UNU OCW may require to understand the course materials offered on the UNU OCW Web site.
The course-pack materials that accompany most UNU OCW courses often contain proprietary information and copyrighted materials that UNU OCW instructors only use in their classroom interactions with UNU OCW students. These materials are not available, nor will they be in the future, to UNU OCW users.
No, UNU OCW has no relationship with, grants no special permission to, and does not approve, endorse, or certify any organizations, teachers, tutors, or other service providers who use educational materials available on the UNU OCW Web site in connection with their services. Except for students admitted to UNU, UNU OCW does not authorize the granting of any kind of degree, certificate, or other recognition for participation in or completion of any course of study based on or using published UNU OCW course materials.
To reference UNU OCW you must comply with the terms of the license associated with UNU OCW and/or the specific course materials. Typically you must give credit to UNU OCW and the author of the course materials anytime you use UNU OCW materials. For your convenience, each UNU OCW page includes a citation appropriate for the page at the bottom of the content. However, any reference to UNU OCW (including the UNU OCW name in any of its forms or UNU OCW seals or logos) that deliberately or inadvertently claims, suggests, or in UNU OCW's sole judgment, gives the appearance or impression of a relationship with or endorsement by UNU OCW, is prohibited.
[See also Intellectual Property]
Links to UNU OCW or to courses or pages within the UNU OCW Web site are permitted so long as the use of the materials associated with the link is permitted under the terms of the license associated with the course materials or particlar content. Typically course materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license 2.5, however individual course materials may have a separate license. Please check the bottom of the page to view the applicable license for any particular item. For your convenience, each UNU OCW page includes a citation appropriate for the page at the bottom of the content.
In addition to meeting the terms of the license, links to UNU OCW are permitted as long as the link is freely accessible (e.g., no restrictions or fee for access); and there is no claim, appearance, or implication of an affiliation with or endorsement by UNU OCW. UNU OCW cannot guarantee the persistence of any specific link other than those to the UNU OCW homepage.
[See also Intellectual Property]
Each UNU OCW course Web site is developed individually with the participating instructors. It includes as much of the UNU Research and Training Centres' and Programmes' course materials as is available in a digital format, or can be cost-effectively prepared; and is free of Intellectual Property and copyright restrictions. UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes participate only voluntarily, and publish only as much content as they are comfortable having on a Web site that is freely accessible worldwide.
In some cases, solutions to homework assignments, quizzes, and exams are only discussed and presented in the classroom and not made available in print or electronic format to students, or to the worldwide community of visitors to the UNU OCW Web site. In other cases, the instructors plan to re-use the assignments, quizzes, and exams in their classroom and so they do not wish to widely publish their solutions.
Although video lectures are useful for students, there are many reasons that UNU OCW does not include video lectures in every course. First is the issue of bandwidth. We are very much focused on making UNU OCW course materials as accessible as possible to users all over the world, including the developing world. If we were to start depending on the video component as the key element of every UNU OCW course, we would be excluding a large portion of the UNU OCW audience who are not using high-speed Internet connections. They would never be able to download the videos and we are very sensitive to that fact.
Another key concern about video is cost. The technology for compressing and storing video becomes more and more affordable by the day, but it is still not affordable, or feasible from a production standpoint, for us to be compressing 20 video lectures for all of our courses. UNU OCW does not have that kind of storage capacity, at this time.
A key UNU OCW audience is educators, and for them, we are hoping that by providing the syllabus, reading lists and lecture notes, we are offering a chance for them to jumpstart their own pedagogy and improve the way they teach their chosen discipline. While video lectures are very easy for people with fast Internet connections to watch, they do not fulfill the mission of UNU OCW.
Prior to making any course materials publicly available, the UNU OCW team has reviewed all material extensively to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material openly available on the Web. We will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others [See also What do I do if I believe a portion of UNU OCW material infringes my copyright?].
The intellectual property policies created for UNU OCW are clear and consistent with other policies for scholarly materials used in education. Instructors retain ownership of most materials prepared for UNU OCW. UNU OCW retains ownership only when significant use has been made of the UNU's resources. If student course work is placed on the UNU OCW site, then copyright in the work remains with the student.
If you would like to use UNU OCW course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact us using the feedback page or email postmaster@localhost.
A commercial use would involve the assessment of a direct or indirect fee for use of the UNU OCW materials, or any derivation or modification of the UNU OCW material, or any other commercial exploitation of UNU OCW materials. All uses, reuse, and distribution of UNU OCW material, including works derived from UNU OCW material, must be attributed to UNU OCW and to the original authors where identified on the UNU OCW materials you distribute. If you would like to use UNU OCW course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact us using the feedback link at the top of the page.
To reuse or repost materials from UNU OCW, confirm that the license allows for the use you intend. If the license permits reuse, you must give proper attribution to the original UNU OCW author(s).
For your convenience, at the bottom of each page, we provide a citation in APA format, a copyright statement and a license for that page.
Or you may chose to cite the resource in the following manner: "This material was created by or adapted from material created by UNU OCW instructor, (Name), (Title), (Year). Copyright © (Year), (Instructor's Name)."
If you want to use the course materials on your Web site, and the materials are licensed using a Creative Commons license, you must also include a copy of the Creative Commons license, or clear and reasonable link to its URL (for example, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/), with every copy of the materials or the derivative work(s) you create from it.
The intent of UNU OCW is that our Web site should reflect the course materials for what is being taught at UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes. The reason for this policy is that the materials presented on the UNU OCW site are authored by members of the UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes, and thus, our members will take final responsibility for these materials. It would be difficult for UNU OCW to guarantee the accuracy and originality of materials we received from outside sources. However, we encourage other universities to create their own "opencourseware" in which materials from their courses would be posted online and openly shared with the world. UNU OCW is eager to link to other universities or institutions that have similar goals.
UNU OCW, prior to making any UNU materials publicly available, has reviewed all material extensively to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material available on UNU OCW. UNU OCW will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others. If you believe that a portion of UNU OCW material infringes on your copyright, please contact us using the feedback page or email postmaster@localhost.
To file the notification, you must be either the copyright owner of the work or an individual authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. Your notification must include:
If you do not include an electronic signature with your claim, you may be asked to send or fax a follow-up copy with a signature.
Participation of UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes in UNU OCW is completely voluntary.
UNU OCW is intended as a publication of UNU course materials on the Web, and not as an interactive experience with instructors at UNU Research and Training Centres and Programmes. It provides the content of, but is not a substitute for, a UNU education. The most fundamental cornerstone of the learning process at UNU is the interaction between instructors and students in the classroom, and among students themselves on site. UNU OCW does not offer visitors to the Web site the opportunity for direct contact with instructors, though individual portal members may choose to list their contact information. Inquiries related to specific course materials will be forwarded to the instructor associated with that course for their consideration. However, due to the tremendous volume of email inquiries received, it is unlikely he or she will answer all emails.
Yes, inquiries will be answered. UNU OCW encourages users to provide feedback on the site and the published course materials. The comments and constructive criticism of users will help the UNU OCW staff improve the site and published course materials as we continue to evolve.
You may translate course materials in UNU OCW if permitted by the license of the course materials you wish to translate. UNU OCW asks that any UNU OCW course materials translated into other languages from the original language must be accompanied by the proper attribution of the original materials and include the following disclaimer:
"These United Nations University OpenCourseWare course materials have been translated into [YOUR LANGUAGE] by [YOUR INSTITUTION] and UNU OpenCourseWare makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the materials, express or implied, including, without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, or the absence of errors, whether or not discoverable. UNU OpenCourseWare bears no responsibility for any inaccuracies in translation. Any inaccuracies or other defects contained in this material, due to inaccuracies in language translation, are the sole responsibility of [YOUR INSTITUTION] and not UNU OpenCourseWare."[See Also How do I properly cite my reuse of UNU OCW materials]
The majority of UNU OCW course sites work in modern Web browsers on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections, such as modems, should allow users to view most materials on the sites (however, downloading or accessing materials may take somewhat longer).
Metadata is, literally, "data about data." Metadata can be better understood as information that describes other information. For example, this Web page of FAQs UNU OCW has an author, a title, a date of creation, and a unique Internet address; this information constitutes the metadata about this page. Metadata enables sophisticated, powerful, and accurate searches across UNU OCW course materials.
The fonts and style of the UNU OCW Web site have been specifically selected to meet certain design and accessibility standards. The UNU OCW team has tested the site and these standards across a wide variety of browsers and platform. However, some users may still find that their browser configurations continue to display the text too small. You can change the displayed font size using your browser's View menu. In Netscape 7, there is a "VIEW - Text-Zoom" selection (try 120%). In Netscape 4.x, there is a "VIEW - Increase Font" selection. In Internet Explorer, you can select "VIEW - Text-Size - Larger or Largest." We hope this helps you to more comfortably view the UNU OCW course materials.
All course materials published on the UNU OCW site are checked to see if they are valid XHTML and meet Section 508 and WAI-AA guidelines as part of the authoring process. We require all images to contain ALT attributes and all links to contain TITLE tags.
A small percentage of the PDF documents offered on the UNU OCW Web site may be compatible only with newer versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you would like to view such a file, we recommend downloading the latest version of the Acrobat Reader from the Adobe Web site at http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/main.html.
The information we learn from visitors helps us improve the UNU OCW site, and assists our foundation sponsors in evaluation of usage, access, and impact of UNU OCW on the worldwide educational community. UNU OCW collects the following information from visitors:
UNU OCW uses "cookies" in a limited way. Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that this Web site transfers to your computer's hard drive through your Web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser when you make return trips to the site. This allows us to track your use of the site (anonymously), and to analyze patterns in site use, such as repeat visits, length of visits, and breadth of content used, for example). Cookies also allow us to conduct periodic, online, voluntary user surveys where we can gain more insight into what type of people are actually using the site, how they are using the site, and what the educational impact of the site is on these users.
Information about our site visitors is an important part of understanding and extending the impact of UNU OCW in the worldwide academic community. Individual personally identifiable information about users (name, email address, etc) will not be made available to third parties except as outlined below, nor will it ever be used for commercial purposes. We share user information only as described below.
UNU OCW runs on the open source eduCommons software.
For more information on eduCommons, please contact The Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (http://cosl.usu.edu/).
UNU OCW is firmly committed to open systems and utilizes open source software whereever possible.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and an aggregator allow you to subscribe to discussion forums, blogs and other websites in order to receive timely, organized updates of posts, news, and other information you care about.
It is particularly generous of you to offer a financial contribution to support UNU OCW. This is a wonderful endorsement of what we hope to achieve. If you wish to make such a donation, please make your check payable to "United Nations University" and enclose a note indicating that the contribution is for the United Nations University OpenCourseWare Fund. You can mail your check to:
United Nations University Centre
53-70, Jingumae 5-chome, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 150-8925, Japan
UNU OCW is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting program.
UNU OCW course materials are available for free on the Web for the use
of educators and self-learners. Those interested in applying to be
students at United Nations University are encouraged to contact the UNU
Training Centre or Programme that interests them. Please see: http://www.unu.edu/system/centres.html