The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's OpenCourseWare program (JHSPH OCW) offers the following answers to common inquiries we receive about OCW. Click on a subject heading below to view questions and answers relating to your selection.
Links throughout the answers will guide you to further information on our website, or from other sources. Should you have any further questions, please send us a message through our Feedback Form.
About JHSPH OCW
Using JHSPH OCW Materials
What is JHSPH OpenCourseWare?
The philosophy behind JHSPH OCW is to make JHSPH course materials now used in the teaching of almost all undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. JHSPH OCW will not only advance technology-enhanced education at JHSPH, but it will also serve as a model for universities to disseminate knowledge in the Internet age. This venture builds on the tradition at JHSPH, and in American higher education, of open dissemination of educational materials, philosophy and modes of thought, and will help lead to fundamental changes in the way colleges and universities use the Web as a vehicle for education.
Why is JHSPH doing this?
The OCW concept is in agreement with JHSPH's mission (Protecting Health, Saving Lives - Millions at a Time) and is true to JHSPH's values of excellence, innovation and leadership. JHSPH OCW contributes to the "shared intellectual commons" in academia, which fosters collaboration across JHSPH and among other scholars across disciplines and around the world.
How does JHSPH OCW differ from other types of Web-based education, including distance learning?
JHSPH OCW differs from other institutional Web-based education offerings because it is free and accessible to all, because of its depth and breadth, and because it takes an institutional approach to online course publication.
JHSPH OCW is not a distance-learning initiative. Distance learning involves the active exchange of information between faculty and students, with the goal of obtaining some type of credential or diploma. Distance learning is become increasingly available at JHSPH to those willing and able to pay for materials or course delivery. JHSPH OCW is not meant to replace degree-granting higher education or for-credit courses. Rather, the goal is to provide at no cost the content that supports an education.
Many individual faculty members at JHSPH and other universities already use the Web extensively to make standard course materials available to their students. Some colleges and universities now require a website for every class. But these websites are largely designed for, and accessible to, only those students enrolled at these institutions. JHSPH OCW is an unprecedented institutional effort on a much broader scale, since the goal is to provide the course materials freely and openly to anyone in the world.
What are the long-term goals of the JHSPH OCW initiative?
Enabled by Internet technologies, JHSPH OCW is building a new electronic publishing model for educational materials. While JHSPH OCW's published content is already providing value to users, over the next 5 to 10 years, the published content, technology and processes will become increasingly more robust. JHSPH OCW is built on a single, searchable organizing structure with technology that is scalable to include virtually all JHSPH's graduate- and undergraduate-level courses. These course websites will include uniform metadata about their contents.
We expect JHSPH OCW to reach a steady, although never static--state by summer 2008. Between now and then we will be publishing more JHSPH courses, conducting continuous vigorous evaluation of the program's success, enhancing our content management and publishing technologies, and developing our internal staffing and workflow.
When do classes start?
OpenCourseWare Web sites differ from academic classes in that they are simply snapshots of content available in an academic course without any interaction with faculty or students at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. You are free to review the information on an OpenCourseWare Web site at your own pace, free of charge. There is no set schedule for viewing OpenCourseWare materials. If you are interested in taking an academic class complete with faculty and student interaction, please browse the School's vast offerings of academic classes at http://commprojects.jhsph.edu/courses/
Will JHSPH OCW always be free and openly available to anyone in the world?
JHSPH is committed to JHSPH OCW remaining a free and openly available publication of the course materials that support the dynamic Web site interactions of a JHSPH education. Even as we continue to grow and evolve, our OCW materials will always remain free and open to all. Along with this commitment to remaining free and open, JHSPH OCW is also committed to the idea that JHSPH OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, and that users will never have to register to view course materials.
JHSPH OCW is working hard to publish all of the JHSPH faculty's course materials through this exciting initiative. Over time, we expect that virtually all of JHSPH's graduate and undergraduate courses will be available, allowing users of JHSPH OCW to follow the entire track for a particular curriculum from the first class through the graduate level.
How do I register to use JHSPH OCW course materials?
Because JHSPH OCW is not a distance-learning or degree-granting initiative, there is no registration process required for users to view course materials. JHSPH OCW is a publication of the course materials that support the dynamic classroom interactions of a JHSPH education. JHSPH OCW is available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world.
Where are the course materials?
JHSPH OCW currently offers the course materials from 10 JHSPH graduate courses. To find what courses are available at this time for academic credit, view the complete course list. Once you have accessed a particular course site, the left-hand navigation bar of each course homepage will detail what materials are available for each individual course.
How do I find out what courses are available?
All courses are listed in the left navigation on the JHSPH OCW homepage.
How is JHSPH organized academically?
There are ten academic departments that make up the School. Below is a list:
- Behavior and Health
- Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Health Policy & Management
- International Health
- Mental Health
- Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
- Population & Family Health Sciences
How can I use JHSPH OCW course materials?
JHSPH OCW can be considered a large-scale, Web-based publication of the course materials that support a JHSPH education. Educators are encouraged to use the materials for curriculum development, while students can augment their current learning by making use of the materials offered, and self-learners are encouraged to draw upon the JHSPH OCW for self-study or supplementary use. Course materials offered on the JHSPH OCW website may be used, copied, distributed, translated and modified, but only for non-commercial educational purposes that are made freely available to other users under the same terms defined by the JHSPH OCW legal notice.
What are the prerequisites to use JHSPH OCW materials?
Because JHSPH OCW is not a distance-learning or degree-granting initiative, users do not have to register to view course materials. There are also no prerequisites for users who want to use JHSPH OCW course materials in their own learning. If you would like to read about the prerequisites that JHSPH students must have completed before taking individual courses, please visit the online JHSPH Catalog.
Does JHSPH OCW offer discounts on textbooks or software applications used in the course materials?
JHSPH OCW does not sell, offer vendor discounts for, or represent any vendor who may sell the software, books or other materials that users of JHSPH OCW may require to understand the course materials offered on the JHSPH OCW website.
How do I get a copy of the course pack for a particular JHSPH course?
The course-pack materials that accompany most JHSPH courses often contain proprietary information and copyrighted materials that JHSPH faculty only use in their classroom interactions with JHSPH students. These materials are not available, nor will they be available in the future, to JHSPH OCW users.
Are there any learning communities or discussion groups that have formed around the JHSPH OCW educational content?
Consortium partner MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has embarked on a pilot research project with the Open Sustainable Learning Opportunities (OSLO) Research Group at Utah State University. Seven MIT OCW courses now offer links to learning communities where individuals around the world can connect with each other, collaborate, form study groups and receive support for their use of MIT OCW materials in formal and informal educational settings. This joint MIT OCW/Utah State University research project, called Open Learning Support (OLS), is focused on building "social software" that enables informal learning communities to form around existing open educational content.
I have seen (or I am/represent) an individual, organization or institution that offers to teach JHSPH courses or tutor students based on JHSPH materials. Does JHSPH approve or recognize such individuals or organizations?
No, JHSPH has no relationship with, grants no special permission to, and does not approve, endorse or certify any organizations, teachers, tutors or other service providers who use educational materials available on the JHSPH OCW website in connection with their services. Except for students admitted to and enrolled at the School of Public Health, JHSPH does not authorize the granting of any kind of degree, certificate or other recognition for participation in or completion of any course of study based on or using published JHSPH course materials.
May I/my organization state on our website or in our literature that we make use of JHSPH OCW course materials?
In accordance with the terms of the JHSPH OCW Creative Commons license, you must give credit to JHSPH and the faculty author of the course materials anytime you use JHSPH OCW materials. However, any reference to JHSPH (including the JHSPH name in any of its forms or JHSPH seals or logos) that deliberately or inadvertently claims, suggests, or in JHSPH's sole judgment gives the appearance or impression of a relationship with or endorsement by JHSPH is prohibited.
May I link to the JHSPH OCW website from my website?
Links to JHSPH OCW or to courses or pages within the JHSPH OCW website are permitted as long as the use of the materials associated with the link is permitted under the terms of the JHSPH OCW Creative Commons license. The link is freely accessible (e.g., no restrictions or fee for access); and there is no claim, appearance or implication of an affiliation with or endorsement by JHSPH. JHSPH OCW cannot guarantee the persistence of any specific link other than those to the JHSPH OCW homepage.
Why is there such variation in the breadth and depth of content presented on individual JHSPH OCW course websites?
JHSPH faculty and instructors publish only as much content as they are comfortable having on a website that is freely accessible worldwide. Each JHSPH OCW course website is developed individually with the participating faculty and instructors. Thus, the JHSPH OCW website includes as much of the JHSPH faculty member's course materials as is available in a digital format, or can be prepared cost-effectively, and is free of intellectual property and copyright restrictions.
Why do some JHSPH OCW course sites lack solutions to assignments, quizzes and exams?
In some cases, solutions to homework assignments, quizzes and exams are only discussed and presented in the classroom, and not made available in print or electronic format to JHSPH students--or to the worldwide community of visitors to the JHSPH OCW website. In other cases, the instructors plan to re-use the assignments, quizzes and exams in their JHSPH classrooms, and so do not wish to widely publish their solutions.
Why doesn't every JHSPH OCW course offer video lectures?
Although video lectures are useful for students, JHSPH OCW does not include video lectures in every course for several reasons. First is the issue of bandwidth. We are very much focused on making JHSPH's course materials as accessible as possible to users all over the world, including the developing world. If we were to start depending on the video component as the key element of every JHSPH OCW course, we would be excluding a large portion of the JHSPH OCW audience who are still surfing the Web on 28K modems. We are very sensitive to the fact that they would never be able to download the videos.
Another key concern about video lectures is cost. The technology for compressing and storing video becomes more and more affordable by the day, but it is still not affordable, or feasible from a production standpoint, for us to be compressing 20 video lectures for all 900 of our courses. JHSPH OCW does not have that kind of storage capacity, at this time.
A key JHSPH OCW audience is educators, and we are hoping that by providing them with the syllabus, reading lists and lecture notes, we are offering them new options for improving the way they teach their chosen disciplines.
Who owns the intellectual property published on the JHSPH OCW website?
Prior to making any course materials publicly available, the JHSPH OCW team extensively reviews all materials to determine the correct ownership of the materials and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the materials openly available on the Web. We will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others. If you believe that any portion of the JHSPH OCW materials infringes on another's copyright, please fill out our feedback form. The intellectual property policies created for JHSPH OCW are clear and consistent with other policies for scholarly materials used in education. Faculty retain ownership of most materials prepared for JHSPH OCW, in accordance with the JHSPH policy on textbook authorship. JHSPH retains ownership only when significant use has been made of the School of Public Health's resources. If student course work is placed on the JHSPH OCW site, then copyright of the work remains with the student.
What are the requirements of use for JHSPH OCW users?
The underlying premise and purpose of JHSPH OCW is to make course materials used in JHSPH courses freely and openly available to others for non-commercial educational purposes. Through JHSPH OCW, JHSPH grants the right to anyone to use the materials, either "as is," or in a modified form. There is no restriction on how a user can modify the materials for the user's purpose. Materials may be edited, translated, combined with someone else's materials, reformatted, or changed in any other way. However, there are three requirements that a JHSPH OCW user must meet to use the materials:
- Non-commercial: Use of JHSPH OCW materials is open to all except for profit-making entities who charge a fee for access to educational materials.
- Attribution: Any and all use or reuse of the material, including use of derivative works (new materials that incorporate or draw on the original materials), must be attributed to JHSPH and, if a faculty member's name is associated with the material, to that person as well.
- Share alike (aka "copyleft"): Any publication or distribution of original or derivative works, including production of electronic or printed Web site materials or placement of materials on a website, must offer the works freely and openly to others under the same terms that JHSPH OCW first made the works available to the user.
If you would like to use JHSPH OCW course materials, but are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact the OCW Administrator for clarification.
How does JHSPH define non-commercial use?
A commercial use would involve charging a direct or indirect fee for use of the JHSPH OCW materials, or any derived or modified version of JHSPH OCW material, or any other commercial exploitation of JHSPH OCW materials. All uses, reuse and distribution of JHSPH OCW material, including works derived from JHSPH OCW material, must be attributed to JHSPH OCW and to the original authors where identified on the JHSPH OCW materials you choose to distribute. If you would like to use JHSPH OCW course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact the OCW Administrator for clarification.
How do I properly cite my reuse of JHSPH OCW materials?
If you choose to reuse or repost JHSPH OCW materials, you must give proper attribution to the original JHSPH faculty author(s). Please use the following citation: "This material was created by, or adapted from material created by, JHSPH faculty member (Name), (Title), (Year). Copyright © (Year) (Faculty Member's Name)."
How can I contribute my own educational materials to JHSPH OCW?
The intent of JHSPH OCW is that our website should reflect the course materials that are being taught at JHSPH. The reason for this policy is that the materials presented on the JHSPH OCW site are authored by members of the JHSPH faculty; therefore, our faculty will take final responsibility for these materials. It would be difficult for JHSPH OCW to guarantee the accuracy and originality of materials we received from outside sources. However, we encourage other universities to create their own "opencourseware" in which materials from their courses would be posted online and openly shared with the world. JHSPH OCW is eager to link to other universities or institutions with similar goals.
Are JHSPH faculty required to participate in JHSPH OCW?
No. Participation of JHSPH faculty in JHSPH OCW is voluntary; however, judging by the number of JHSPH faculty who already actively use the Web in their teaching, we expect that within 10 years virtually all JHSPH courses will be available on the JHSPH OCW website. Professional Web design and production resources are available to JHSPH faculty to develop and maintain the JHSPH OCW course sites, and JHSPH is committed to the long-term support of the JHSPH OCW educational environment.
How do I contact a specific member of the JHSPH faculty?
JHSPH OCW is intended as a publication of JHSPH course materials on the Web, and not as an interactive experience with JHSPH faculty. It provides the content of, but is not a substitute for, a JHSPH education, the most fundamental cornerstone of which is the interaction between faculty and students in the classroom, and among students themselves on campus. JHSPH OCW does not offer visitors to the website the opportunity for direct contact with JHSPH faculty. Inquiries related to specific course materials will be forwarded to the JHSPH faculty member associated with that course for their consideration; however, due to the tremendous volume of email inquiries received, it is unlikely he or she will answer all emails.
Will inquiries to JHSPH OCW be answered?
Although JHSPH OCW cannot answer all Web enquiries, we encourage users to provide feedback on the site and the published course materials. The comments and constructive criticism of users will help the JHSPH OCW staff improve the site and published course materials as the OCW project continues to evolve during the early phases of this initiative.
What technology is used to publish the JHSPH OCW website?
The JHSPH OCW technology solution supports a complex publishing process. This is a large-scale digital publishing infrastructure that consists of planning tools, a content management system (CMS), and the JHSPH OCW content distribution infrastructure. The current solution uses a four-person technical support team managing all aspects of this infrastructure.
The planning tools used by the JHSPH OCW team to assist faculty in publishing their course materials include a custom application of SQL Server, and several checklists and documents. For creating and managing content, we use several desktop tools (file conversion tools) as well as the CMS, an extensively customized ColdFusion application that fully supports our publishing process. Our content delivery infrastructure includes a sophisticated publishing engine, content staging server, and a content delivery network.
For more information on the JHSPH OCW publishing environment or technology, please contact the OCW Administrator.
Is it possible to save the RealPlayer video files to a disk or to my hard drive?
Most of the video that JHSPH OCW provides is in a Real Video format delivered through streaming servers. Our goal in providing video in this format (that is, in multiple bit rates) is to enable users with a variety of Internet connections to sample JHSPH OCW video offerings with a common browser plug-in without having to download large media files. Users with slow connections, however, will not enjoy a quality video experience. We value your feedback on this point and we will give this question our attention as we enhance the site.
Are there other initiatives focused on educational technology at JHSPH?
JHSPH is undertaking a number of ambitious projects to enhance and potentially transform the educational experience through the use of new technologies. These projects include our Distance Education division.
Is it within the JHSPH OCW use license to translate the course materials?
JHSPH asks that any JHSPH OCW materials translated into other languages from the original English be accompanied by the following disclaimer: "These JHSPH OpenCourseWare course materials have been translated into [YOUR LANGUAGE] by [YOUR INSTITUTION]. JHSPH OpenCourseWare makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the materials, express or implied, including, without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, or the absence of errors, whether or not discoverable. JHSPH OpenCourseWare bears no responsibility for any inaccuracies in translation. Any inaccuracies or other defects contained in this material, due to inaccuracies in language translation, are the sole responsibility of [YOUR INSTITUTION] and not JHSPH OpenCourseWare."
What are the technical requirements for viewing JHSPH OCW course materials?
JHSPH OCW course sites work on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections, such as 28K modems, should allow users to view most materials on the sites. However, downloading materials may take somewhat longer. JHSPH OCW has tested the course sites with Netscape version 4.75 and Internet Explorer version 5.5 browsers.
What is metadata and why is it important to JHSPH OCW?
Metadata is, literally, "data about data." Metadata can be better understood as information that describes other information. For example, this Web page of FAQs for JHSPH OCW has an author, a title, a date of creation and a unique Internet address; this information constitutes the metadata about this page. Working with the JHSPH Libraries, JHSPH OCW has implemented a strong set of metadata, enabling sophisticated, powerful and accurate searches across course content materials.
How do I change the font-size on the JHSPH OCW website?
The fonts and style of the JHSPH OCW website have been specifically selected to meet certain design and accessibility standards. The JHSPH OCW team has tested both the site and these standards across a wide variety of browsers and platforms. However, some users may still find that their browser configurations continue to display too-small text. You can change the displayed font size by using your browser's View menu. In Netscape 7, there is a "VIEW - Text-Zoom" selection (try 120%). In Netscape 4.x, there is a "VIEW - Increase Font" selection. In Internet Explorer, you can select "VIEW - Text-Size - Larger or Largest." We hope this helps you to more comfortably view the JHSPH OCW course materials.
What information does JHSPH OCW collect from visitors to the website?
The information we learn from visitors helps us improve the JHSPH OCW site, and assists our foundation sponsors in evaluating the usage, access and impact of JHSPH OCW on the worldwide educational community. JHSPH OCW collects the following information from visitors:
- Information You Provide: We receive and store any information you enter on our website or give us in any other way. You provide most such information when you submit feedback on the site, contact us by email or agree to participate in a visitor survey. This information may include your name and email address, your academic status, your institution, your geographic region, how you are using JHSPH OCW and what you think of OCW. In all cases, any information you provide is strictly optional and voluntary and you may choose to use the OCW site without ever providing this information. If you voluntarily provide your email address or other contact information, we will not share personal information with anyone without first requesting your explicit permission to do so.
- Information That Is Automatically Gathered: We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with the JHSPH OCW website. Like many websites, we make use of "cookies," which allow us to automatically obtain certain types of information when your Web browser accesses http://ocw.jhsph.edu. Examples of the information we collect and analyze include the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the JHSPH OCW site; computer and connection information such as browser type and version, operating system and platform; and content you viewed or searched for during your visit to JHSPH OCW. During some visits, we may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors and the length of visits to certain pages. If your browser is configured to not accept cookies, you will still enjoy full access to all JHSPH OCW content. In any case, none of this information is personally identifiable or linked back to you as an individual.
Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that this website transfers to your computer's hard drive through your Web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser when you make return trips to the site. This allows us to track your use of the site anonymously and to analyze patterns of site use such as repeat visits, length of visits and breadth of content used, for example. Cookies also allow us to conduct periodic, online, voluntary, user surveys where we can gain insight into what type of people are actually using our site, how they are using the site, and what the educational impact of the site is on our users.
Why doesn't this PDF open correctly in my Acrobat 4.0/Acrobat 5.0 Reader?
A small percentage of the PDF documents offered on the JHSPH OCW website are compatible only with Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Reader and above. If you would like to view such a file, we recommend downloading the latest version of Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website. Meanwhile, we are currently working to identify these PDF files and optimize them to fully function with all versions of Acrobat Reader. Please contact us should you notice a file that is not viewable with Acrobat 5.0 or below and we will work to fix it. In your message, be sure to include your version number of Adobe Acrobat, your browser type and version, and what operating system you are using. Also, if you would identify the course, section and name of the PDF, that would help us to locate and correct it.
How can I support JHSPH OCW with a financial donation?
It is generous of you to offer a financial contribution to support JHSPH OCW. This is a wonderful endorsement of what we hope to achieve. If you wish to make such a donation, please use the "Giving to JHSPH" website. Use the site's secure, online giving form at http://www.jhsph.edu/Giving. When filling out the gift form, the JHSPH OCW fund name is "OpenCourseWare."
How do I apply for admission to JHSPH as a student?
JHSPH OCW is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting program. JHSPH OCW course materials are available for free on the Web for the use of educators and self-learners. Those interested in applying to be full-time students at JHSPH are encouraged to contact the JHSPH Admissions Office