Monday, March 9, 2009

Open CourseWare: Future of Operations Research continuing education?

Jim Orlin, in a recent blog entry, pondered what should Operations Research professionals know and (more importantly to me) how will they learn it? I stipulated on his blog that perhaps the Open Source movement could help in this endeavor. I had this to say as a comment to Jim...

1. Continuing Education - Get the tools to the OR community freely and openly without the restriction of licensing or proprietary copyrights. These need not be end-user type products. They can be simple as software development kits, theory abstracts, student projects, or maybe even journals.

2. Limit resources - Let there be no barrier to entry and provide the tools free of charge. Let the community own it and provide back to the community.

Jim brings up a great point in HOW are we going to get the tools and knowledge to the future Operations Research practitioners so that they will be able to apply those skills. Perhaps the education community has already started to begin this exercise. Right now there is a growing trend by academia to promote Open CourseWare (wikipedia). Open CourseWare has largely been a by-product of the Open Source movement. Sam Dean of OStatic shares my sentiments that this is a great resource for learning and that Open CourseWare is growing at a fast pace. Open CourseWare is not limited only to the University level. There are endeavors such as the Open Book Project which is aimed at developing and distributing education tools and textbooks freely. The Operations Research community can learn from these new innovative ways to share knowledge.

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