Are they a) learning aids, b) Cliffs Notes lookalikes, c) intellectual property theft, d) none of the above, or e) all the above? One thing's for sure: open courseware projects and sites are universal. They range from MIT's famous OpenCourseWare, putting all coursework on the Web for free, to RipMixLearners, a wiki for sharing class notes and other courseware at University of the Western Cape in South Africa, to the largely US Ivy League-focused FinalsClub.org with class notes and study groups. And so many others, e.g., Course Hero, Knetwit, PostYourTest, Koofers, blogged about in the Digital Natives blog. Some of the content – for example, problem solution keys and old exams – raise healthy ethical questions that lend themselves less to yes/no answers than to excellent, class and family discussion. The blogger, a science major, wonders, for example, "if the availability of solution keys feed a kind of 'get the answers and the answers only' kind of mentality – an unhealthy focus on the solution rather than the process…. Canny students can usually find the solutions online, whether in freely available old exams/problem set solutions or more involved digging through archived course sites…. Say I find the instructor’s solution manual to my math textbook online – is it okay for me to use it? To copy my homework? To check my homework? If it’s freely available online, am I really taking advantage of an unfair edge? But there's also, arguably, the karmic payback, when it comes to an exam and one hasn’t really learned the material."
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NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
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Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
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