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Most Progressive Free Courses: Education-Portal.com's People's Choice Award Winner
By its very nature, open education is progressive. So what makes a site eligible for our Most Progressive award? It does more than just provide free access to high quality online education. It must be exciting, creative and challenging in a way that exceeds the expectations of what open education can be. We're pleased to share the following sites, each of which is impressively progressive.
Winner: African Virtual University
The people and nations of Africa are highly diverse, with myriad cultures and languages. Therefore, it was a daunting task for African Virtual University (AVU) to bring together educational resources from across Africa into a single, unified group. But that's exactly what AVU did, and without sacrificing the diversity of the people benefiting from the site.
Over 50 universities from 27 African nations are joined by AVU to offer online education, face-to-face learning and courses that combine both structures. There are essential subject areas available, such as biology, chemistry and mathematics. There are also subject areas of particular relevance to those in developing nations, such as food security and renewable energy. Courses are offered in English, French and Portuguese.
Our voters labeled AVU 'a critical resource' with 'original and very interesting content.' They noted that it's 'amazing that they've done it in three languages,' helping 'the most needed region of the world to move forward.' We even had a Portuguese-speaking voter praise the site's 'qualidade.'
Process.arts is a fitting open education site for art students and teachers. Operating through the University of the Arts London, this is a place for artists to collaborate on arts practices, research and ideas. But it's also a place for the same users to collaborate on how the site functions. It's an experimental open education resource that's part formal education site and part social network. It's like a group of poets workshopping not only their art, but the workshop itself. As our voters noted, the site is 'constructed with the principles of community building in mind,' placing a high value on 'openness in informal thinking.'
Finalist: Open Badges
Your merit badge in knot tying? That's so last century. With Open Badges, you can join the 21st century by earning badges that don't get sewed onto a sash, but permeate your online existence, from your resume to your Facebook page. The badges represent achievements, activities and interests from outside traditional education programs, such as the completion of an open education course. Your badges can round out your online profile and, as one example, help build your credentials as you seek a new job. Our voters praised Open Badges, a Mozilla-backed site, for 'adding structure to new types of learning validation.'