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A mix of Wiki and Google to search OER

You can potentially access free open educational resources worth $60m to $70m through a new service

education Updated: Aug 24, 2011 10:41 IST
Rahat Bano

There are tonnes of open courseware available in cyber space. Starting at the well-known Massachusetts Institute of Technology which shared its courseware with the world in 2002, 224 universities have followed suit over the next nearly 10 years.

Educators and learners can potentially access free open educational resources (OER) worth $60 million $70 million, according to Stephan K Thieringer, president and CEO, AcrossWorld Education, a Boston-based company which boasts of developing the first cloud-based platform to “fully” enable universities, colleges and schools to access OER. According to Thieringer, they have about 1.3 lakh student users worldwide, including 5,000 in India.

Founded in 2009, AcrossWorld Education’s service is like a mix of Wikipedia and Google and more. But, why use EducationBridge, when there’s a Google to tap the OER of MIT, Rice University, Khan Academy and what have you, at the click of a mouse?

While EducationBridge searches in that “federation” of OERs from the above-mentioned and more organisations, the result also shows similar texts. “The value-add here is, you get relevant content in a precise and concise form. You can use the content in a mix and match manner to create assignments etc,” says Thieringer. It gives you a “fine” result — relevant, contextual, contemporary, he emphasises. It is designed to make it easy for users to search for the desired text or even visuals lying among the millions of pages of OER.

It is, however, not a search engine, Thieringer clarifies. It comes with various features. A user can bookmark, recommend, rate and comment on any asset or assignment.

“When you search, the first result will be one which is the most recommended. If you are a principal, your rating weighs more,” he says. The company charges a fee depending on the size of the institution.