In South Korea, the OpenCourseWare movement started with professor Gyutae Kim, who was a professor of electrical engineering at Korea University. He had learnt about the MIT initiative, and was eager to start something similar in Korea. He initially proposed this to the School of Engineering, but received little support. Later, as the Director of Center for Teaching and Learning in the same university, he received the dean’s permission to pilot an OpenCourseWare project, but without any funding.
According to Meena Hwang (personal communications), who was working under Gyutae Kim in the Center for Teaching and Learning, they received strong support from both MIT and the OpenCourseWare Consortium. They participated in the OpenCourseWare Consortium meeting in Santander, Spain, in May 2007, and learnt about an open source platform for publishing OpenCourseWare called EduCommons. John Dehlin, then director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, later gave an online presentation about the OpenCourseWare concept, which lent important credibility to the pilot project at Korea University.
In April 2008, the Korean OpenCourseWare Consortium was formed, consisting of five universities: Handong Global University, Inha University, Kyung Hee University, Busan National University of Education and Seoul National University of Technology. However, according to Meena Hwang, there is not strong buy-in from presidents and staff at these universities, and aversion by staff members to add to their work burden, which has slowed down the development of the project.
The national evaluation of universities is very important to Korean universities, and traditionally has only looked at research, thus making things that do not result in publications less of a priority. Recently, there has been an increased focus on teaching and learning from the Ministry of Education, which for example mandated centers for teaching and learning at each university in 2006. A large project to improve the quality of teaching that was recently launched, called the ACE project, will disburse USD 800,000$ each year for four years. This project, which is spearheaded by the president of Korea OpenCourseWare Consortium, Dr. Kim Young Sup, included the production of OpenCourseWare in the evaluation criteria for applicants, and all ten universities that won have planned OpenCourseWare projects in the future.
KERIS, a government subsidized organization that coordinates the production of electronic resources for Korean Universities, has also become involved in the opening of resources. Since 2007, it has paid universities to create thousands of e-learning modules. Recently, it has contacted the universities that produced these modules under contract, and asked them to open up at least part of them to the public.