[AI] OpenStudy to forge partnership with NPTEL
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Mon May 30 00:01:23 PDT 2011
OpenStudy to forge partnership with NPTEL
OpenStudy brings together those asking questions and those who know the answers
— Photo: Special Arrangement
The OpenStudy team.
KOCHI: The founders of OpenStudy, the web-based platform that makes it
possible for students across the world to find answers to the
questions which arise in their minds during study, are forging a
partnership with the National Programme on Technology Enhanced
Learning (NPTEL) in India.
NPTEL, implemented by the Indian Institutes of Technology and the
Indian Institute of Science with the support of the Ministry of Human
Resource Development, offers a range of web and video courses in
engineering, science, humanities and social sciences.
OpenStudy (openstudy.com), which aims to become “a kind of Facebook
for learning,” provides the setting for those who ask questions during
study and those who know the answers to come together for further
learning. “Most of the answers come from the learners. We have both
teachers and non-academics who are regular users who come only to
help,” said one of the OpenStudy co-founders, Preetha Ram, in an
email-interview to The Hindu. Along with Ms. Ram, who is Associate
Dean for Pre-Health and Science Education in the Office of
Undergraduate Education at Emory College, Atlanta, the other
co-founders are Ashwin Ram, a Georgia Institute of Technology
professor specialising in artificial intelligence and cognitive
computing, and Chris Sprague, who is the CEO of OpenStudy.
OpenStudy has much to do with the environment of OpenCourseWare, which
gives students across the world access to quality learning materials
from top educational institutions. The Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) has been a major player in developing and promoting
OpenCourseWare, but there are many other institutions that have
digitally opened up their learning resources to the rest of the world,
like the ones involved with NPTEL in India.
Anybody can access these materials, irrespective of whether the
learner is trying to supplement regular study with OpenCourseWare or
working outside the conventional academic system.
While OpenCourseWare does provide learners with easy access to
different kinds of educational material, there is a missing link — the
element of individual interaction that is vital to the learning
process. It is to provide that missing link that OpenStudy was set up
in 2007, say its co-founders.
Once learners sign in to OpenStudy — either directly, or through
Facebook —students who are part of a formal educational system, or
outside it, can join groups of their choice and pose questions and
provide answers to the questions raised by others.
OpenStudy has linked up with institutions that offer OpenCourseWare.
These include MIT, New York University and the University of
On the proposed partnership with the NPTEL, Ms. Ram says: “We are
waiting to have a technical discussion to take the next step of
integration.” Institutions that provide open learning options can
include access to OpenStudy from their sites in different ways.
What about the quality of the answers? “We follow the Wiki principle,
where the answers are crowd-sourced. If the answer is wrong, the next
user comes by to correct it. The answers are rated by the users in the
form of “Good Answer” rating. That there are different levels of users
in the system helps to provide a range of experts. And learners from
different parts of the world join hands to offer “cross global help,”
enriched by different perspectives, contributing to the strength of
the system. OpenStudy has been funded by the National Science
Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Georgia
Research Alliance in the U.S.
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