One size does not fit all: A case study of the spread of OpenCourseWare to India, China and Japan.

January 25, 2009, [MD]

I first went to the annual Comparative and International Education Society conference last year, when it was held at Columbia University. It's a huge event, with something like 3.000+ attendees, including a very hefty component from OISE, both professors and graduate students. It was great going there only as a participant, and getting the feel for the place. I remember feeling a bit silly though, because everyone that saw my name tag which said "University of Toronto", naturally assumed I was at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT's faculty of education), but all I could reply was "no, I'm an undergraduate, but I've applied"... Very wannabe. This year, I am a bona-fide OISE student, luckily.

Looking at the program, there are a lot of very interesting sessions that I am looking forward to. It will also be more fun to go this year, because I already begin to recognize different theoretical debates, the "big names" in the field, etc. For example, it will be fun to see Jürgen Schriewer duck it out with Ramirez and Meyer, after reading so much about their different conceptions of globalization of education.

I submitted an abstract based on a paper I did for a class on global governance and educational change, where I tried to apply different theories to explain why the idea of OpenCourseWare spread to some countries, and not to others. Here is the abstract:

One size does not fit all: A case study of the spread of OpenCourseWare to India, China and Japan.

Since its inception in 2002, OpenCourseWare (OCW), a movement to post university courses online under open licenses, has spread around the world. Initially proposed by MIT President Charles Vest, and supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this concept has spread to universities in more than 30 countries in less than six years. In many cases they have created local and regional consortia, and in some cases it is supported by the local government. How is such a rapid dissemination possible, and what does it mean for internationalization of higher education?

This paper will consist of a case study of three Asian countries that produce OCWs. Japan’s initiative was set up through personal connections between MIT and Japanese universities, and is independent of the state. India’s program is not a formal member of the consortium, and consists of the national open university, and the Indian Institutes of Technology. China’s Ministry of Education has financially supported the creation of over 10,000 open courses. I will apply Mintrom’s theory of policy entrepreneurs and innovation diffusion to analyze the spread of this movement, and use the three cases to discuss whether OCW is a case of Ramirez and Meyer’s “global institutionalism”.


Stian Håklev January 25, 2009 Toronto, Canada
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