I reviewed Yale’s open course program, http://oyc.yale.edu/, and delved into several of the online courses Yale offers. Each course has lectures that are recorded and the opportunity to buy books or download course pages. The video and audio of the lectures are available on YouTube and iTunes. Transcripts are also available for download. As it turns out, that’s all that is available for the course. My overall impression was, “Wow, Yale offers free courses? Cool!” but after digging through a few of the courses that interested me, I had to say I’m a little disappointed. “Shovelware” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012) comes to mind in which standard face to face course content was placed online without being retooled or modified to enable distance learning.

  1. Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designated for a distance learning environment? How so?

No, not at all. The distance learning environment should have visual presentations but be engaging, collaborative, and offer feedback and assessments. These courses were not pre-planned nor designated for distance learning.

2.  Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?

The courses I reviewed were simply lectures with the option to download the text from the textbook. The video presentations were simply recorded lectures. Key points aren’t emphasized; there were no options for interactivity except for a modest question and answer forum which had not been responded to in 28 days. It appears the Q & A forums aren’t moderated. Nowhere in the course does it require or give the instructor interactivity with the students.

3.  Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?

Active learning is not possible with the open courseware that I examined. The “student” simply watches a series of videos. It almost seems like the courses are “feeder” courses to spark interest in the university to promote enrollment. Activities that prompt interactivity (Simonson et al) are non-existent as well as any opportunity for student group work.

What appears evident to me as I examined these courses is the university placed videos online and calls them online classes. They are not in any way, shape, form, or fashion distance learning tools. There is no student interaction, no contact with the instructor, no ability to collaborate, and lastly, no assessment or evaluation. The syllabus lists mid-term and end-of-term exams along with the grade breakdown but the course does not offer the student a tool for taking either exam. This is definitely not the way distance learning is to be conducted.


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.