Open Access: A Note to Non-Michigan State University Students

Greetings!  Welcome to ANP491: Archaeology of Ancient Egypt! If you aren’t already registered for the class, you’ve either come to this website via the recent Boing Boing post, via Audrey Watters’ recent Weekly News Roundup post on KQED MindShift, though the social media (the class announcement has been making the RT rounds on Twitter), or simply stumbled across it via a search.

A couple of quick notes that will help you enjoy (and, more importantly, understand) the class.  Archaeology is a regularly offered class in the Department of Anthropology (being taught online this summer) at Michigan State University.  The class is also Open Access.  This means that most of the content (video lectures, etc.) are freely available to the public.  You can’t “register” for the class – like a student at MSU would (in order to get credit towards a degree).  However, you can view all of the learning materials and read all of the stuff students write for the class.  I also let non-registered students comment on blog posts (so you can take part in the class discussion if you want – though I moderate).  There are some of the readings that non-MSU people don’t have access to (specifically journal articles) – this is for copyright purposes.

It is worth pointing out that while Michigan State University is technically part of the Open Courseware Consortium, it does not have a top level approach to Open Courseware or Open Access Courses (such as the MIT Open Courseware Initiative).  This course is Open Access because I personally believe it is my responsibility as a professor at a university that is both a public institution and a Land Grant institution to work for the public good – and offering all of my classes as Open Access (not just this one) is one of the ways I do this.

Its also very important to point out that, unless otherwise stated, the materials in this class are being made available through a Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 License.  I would ask that respect that license.

This having been said, I hope you get something worthwhile out of the class.

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About Ethan Watrall

An anthropological archaeologist who has worked in North America and North Africa, Ethan Watrall is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Associate Director of MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University. Ethan also serves as Adjunct Curator of Archaeology & Heritage at the Michigan State University Museum. In addition, Ethan is Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative and the Digital Heritage Fieldschool in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University. Currently, Ethan is Co-PI of Enslaved: People of the Historic Slave Trade, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project. Previously, he was Co-Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded ARCS: Archaeological Resource Cataloguing System project, Co-Director of the NEH funded Digital Archive of Malian Photography project, and Director of the NEH funded Institute for Digital Archaeological Method and Practice. Ethan’s primarily scholarly interests lie in how digital methods and computational approaches can be leveraged to preserve and provide access to archaeological and heritage materials, collections, knowledge, and data in order to facilitate research, advance knowledge, fuel interpretation, and democratize our collective understanding and appreciation of the past.

3 thoughts on “Open Access: A Note to Non-Michigan State University Students

  1. Kara – you need to be careful about that. It is more than likely that those articles are essentially pirated. Honestly, my suggestion is that if you have access to a university library, you see if they have copies. While I try to stay away from articles that aren’t freely available, I sometimes can’t avoid it.

  2. You can also get many materials via interlibrary loan at your local public library. The materials can take a while to show up and in some cash strapped library systems you may have to go in person to the central library facility to interact with a librarian who handles the interlibrary loans. But many public libraries are fairly prepared for this seldom asked for service. Also many public libraries also provide online access to journals. This is similar to the “digital library” access for downloading ebooks, sometimes requires an extra step for you to sign up for journal access.

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