The Open Learning Initiative offers two ways to use our course materials. Each mode is designed to meet different needs.

Open & Free courses are designed for individual learners who are not under the guidance of an instructor. You will have access to most or all course content.

Features:

  • No set start or end dates to the course – access material any time and at your own pace.
  • No enrollment—access the course anonymously OR create a FREE OLI account to track your progress.
  • There are no fees associated with your access.
  • Each course is available in at least one version using only open source or free support programs and or plug-ins.

Note: Tests and quizzes are not available in any Open & Free Course.

Academic versions are designed to be used by classes led by an instructor. Instructors from various institutions create customized course sections for their students. Instructors have access to each student’s work and progress. They may assign applicable grades and or credit.

Several of our courses charge low per-student maintenance fees when used in this way. Students are also subject to any normal tuition fees assessed by the instructor’s institution.

Note: The Open Learning Initiative does not grant credit or assign a final grade. Any grade or credit earned originates from the institution that the instructor represents.

OLI creates environments using our technology, but the process through which we create material is even more important. An LMS system supports the administration of a course, while OLI courses provide an entire experience based on our unique development process.
Our courses are designed around student-centered measurable learning outcomes from start to finish which enable us to iteratively improve our courses and improve the teaching and learning experience.

OLI is a research project that develops online educational environments. As part of this work, we have a platform that others may use in collaboration with OLI. If you are interested in creating a new course, please contact us. We may also have opportunities for you to help develop or evaluate courses that we are currently building.

Some courses are still covered under grants from our generous funders, while others are not. In order to cover some of our costs, we charge a small fee.
We believe that that the OLI platform can be successfully used for such courses. Currently, we offer American English Speech, Argument Diagramming, French, Logic & Proofs, and Introduction to Psychology.

Getting Started

If you are learning on your own, choose a course from our course listings and click “Enter Course.” You will have the option to create an account or sign in, or to simply enter the course (your progress will not be tracked).

If you are enrolled in a class that is using an OLI course, you will need to create an account and then register for an OLI course using the Course Key provided by your instructor.

Creating a free account is optional when accessing an Open & Free Course.

  1. Track Your Progress: Creating an account when taking Open & Free Courses will allow you to track your progress as you work through each course. Accessing course materials anonymously does not allow you to save or track progress.
  2. Course Improvement: OLI is studying how students learn in an online educational environment and our study is directed at improving the course materials. As part of the account creation process, you have the option to opt in or out of this research study. A detailed statement about this research is provided for your review and consideration. After you create your account, you can decide to opt out at any time.Opting in will help us to know if OLI course designs and materials are effective. This valuable data informs improvements to OLI courses. We appreciate your help.If you choose to opt-out, your access to course materials will not be affected in any way. Data from your session will not be saved in our research database and our researchers will not see your work.

Note: If you are taking a course for credit through an institution, you will need to create an OLI account and enter a “Course Key” (provided by your instructor) to begin working in the OLI course. You will still have the option to either opt-in or opt-out of the research study.

If you are taking the academic version of the course under the guidance of an instructor, you may be able to receive credit. Check with your instructor to find out if the institution that he or she represents will give you credit for your work. Currently, the Open Learning Initiative does not grant credit for the completion of any course.

If you are an independent learner using an Open & Free course, you can check with your school, or a local school to learn if they offer any options for credit. Each school will vary. Currently, the Open Learning Initiative does not grant credit for the completion of any course.

So far we have typically seen such independent learners arrange with their school to have an instructor create a custom course section for them to work through. The instructor monitors their progress and assigns any applicable grade. Any credit comes from the instructor’s institution. The student may also have to pay that institution’s tuition. To pursue this type of use of OLI course materials, the first step would be to contact your school and see if you can make this kind of arrangement with an instructor. Then he or she can contact us for an instructor’s account and assistance with the custom section.

No. Currently, the Open Learning Initiative does not grant credit, certificates, or validation of completion for any course. Your gradebook is the only proof that you have completed an Open and Free course.

If you are taking an Academic Course, your instructor will provide you with a Course Key. Otherwise, you can use the Open & Free Courses without a Course Key. Simply find the course you are interested in and click on “ENTER COURSE”. See a list of all the available Open & Free Courses.

In situations where you may be registered for two sections of the same course it is very important to make sure you complete your assignments in the correct course.

Example situations:

  • You dropped the course last semester and are now taking the course again.
  • You registered for the Open & Free course before registering for an Academic Course.

Step by step

Go to your My Courses homepage. Each course will be listed under one of two headings:

  • My Academic Courses contains each of your instructor led, Academic courses. Each Academic Course will list a Course Title, Course Key and the lead Instructor’s last name.
  • My Open & Free Courses contains all of your Open & Free Course sections. Open & Free Courses do not have an instructor or Course Key listed. Each Course contains the words Open & Free in the Course Title.

To students taking an Academic Course: Only work completed within your instructor’s course section will be accessible to your instructor. If you complete work in an Open & Free Course, it will not appear in your instructor’s gradebook, nor can it be transferred to his or her gradebook.

Students registered for an Academic, instructor led course that carries a fee, can request a refund anytime before the course drop-date at their home institution.

Step by step

  1. Contact oli-help@lists.andrew.cmu.edu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and request to be removed from the dropped course.
  2. Provide the following information in your request:
    • OLI Account ID
    • Course Key, (or if the Course Key is inaccessible, provide the Course Title and Instructor)
    • Name as displayed on the credit card used
    • Transaction number from your payment confirmation (or the last four digits of the credit card number used)

Note: You must still contact your home institution’s registrar’s office to seek a tuition refund and/or to drop any course in which you are enrolled at that institution.

Students taking an Academic Course must create an account to register for the course.

Carnegie Mellon Students: Click the “CMU users sign in here” link to sign in using the university’s webISO authentication system.

Students from other institutions can follow the steps below to create an account and register for a course.

Step by step

  1. Go to the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) website: http://oli.web.cmu.edu
  2. In the Register Now! Section, enter your Course Key and click the Register button.
  3. You will be presented with the details of the course. On the right side of the screen you will see a student sign up form.
  4. Complete all of the fields in the Student Sign up form on the right side of the screen and click the Signup button.
  5. On the Confirm Your Account Information page, review the account information you entered. If you wish to make any changes, click the Edit Account button. If everything is correct, click the Confirm Account button.
  6. Read the statements in the Online Consent Form and select I Agree or I Disagree then click the Submit button.
  7. You will be presented with your OLI My Courses home page. From this page you can enter the course by clicking the Enter Course link.

Tips

  • The only account setting that can not be changed after you confirm your account is your Account ID.
  • From your OLI home page, you can also:
    • Read announcements from your instructor.
    • Send email to your instructor.
    • Change your password.
    • Test the technical configuration of your system.

Each course contains tailored activities and content. This can result in unique technical requirements for a course. Use a course’s Test and Configure page to learn the requirements specific to for that particular course.

Step by step

  • Go to the Test and Configure page for your course. A link to this page can be found on your My Courses homepage or at the top of the Syllabus page.
  • Click the Test Your System button to test your machine’s basic set-up.
  • Read the System Requirements and Configuring Your Browser sections to check for fonts, plug-ins, etc.
  • If a plug-in or additional software is required for your course, a link and/or instructions are provided.

Note: You will need to repeat this process each time you access this course from a different machine or make significant changes to your system.

Some of our Course Packages are no longer supported by grant funding. To help off-set the cost of updates and maintenance for these courses, we charge a small per-student fee for using the Academic versions.

This fee is charged to you, the student, when you register. At this time we can only accept major credit cards as payment. Checks, cash, American Express or Discover are not accepted.

Step by step

  1. Obtain the correct Course Key from your instructor.
  2. Create an account and enter the Course Key to register for your course.
  3. After selecting your course, the system will take you to Carnegie Mellon’s payment system.
  4. Enter you credit card information.
  5. After a successful transaction, you will be registered for the course.

Note: Students can request a refund anytime before the course drop-date at their home institution.

Although you can access your course on many different platforms, the course navigation and learning activities are designed for use with a laptop or desktop setup, including a keyboard and mouse.

During Your Course— How do I…

If you are registered for an Academic Course, there are several links to your instructor’s e-mail. You can find this link on your My Courses homepage, the Syllabus page, your My Scores page, and under the “More” menu at the top of each course page.

Tips

  • Your instructor is not automatically copied on any e-mails to the OLI Help board.
  • If you are in an Open & Free course, you do not have an instructor. OLI does not pair students with instructors.

If you are a student in an Academic Course or an Open & Free course that contains recordable activities, you can see a record of your progress.

Step by step

  1. On your My Courses homepage, click the My Scores link.
  2. This opens a copy of your gradebook.
  3. The gradebook automatically opens to the Unit and Module containing the most recent activity.
  4. To view assignments in other modules, either use the Find field or Expand a module using the double arrow icon below a module heading.

Share my progress with my instructor?

If you registered for an academic course by using a course key given to you by your instructor, then they will automatically be able to see your progress.

If you signed up for an Open & Free course, you cannot share your progress with others. If you signed up for an Open & Free course by mistake, there is currently no way to send you work to your instructor—you may need to get a course key from your instructor and redo your work after registering for the correct course. Please speak with your instructor.

 

In most cases you will be able to review your submitted assignments.

  1. On your My Courses homepage, locate your course and click the My Scores link. This will take you to a copy of your gradebook.
  2. This gradebook opens to the Unit and Module containing your most recently submitted assignments. Locate the assignment in one of two ways (either/or):
    • Opening the module by clicking the double arrows beneath the module heading.
    • Type the name of the assignment in the Find field.
  3. Your assignment will list a score (either a checkmark, red X or percentage). If your assignment offers multiple attempts, each attempt will appear under the Score heading. Click on the Score icon or percentage to review your submitted work.

Note: An instructor can choose to limit his or her students’ ability to review submitted assignments or receive feedback. If you click on a score link and are not able to review your work or see feedback, contact your instructor.

When you submit an assessment, the resulting document is called an attempt. Some assessments (and instructors) allow you to submit multiple attempts for a given assessment. Some assessments (and instructors) allow you only one attempt per assignment.

There may be times when you accidentally submit an assignment or experience a technical problem during the submission of an assignment.

Step by step

  1. Click the Helpbutton in the top right corner of the page. Give as much detail as possible regarding the error or problem encountered. This could include:
    • Screen shot of the page
    • Exact time error occurred
    • Steps taken just before error occurred
    • Any other pertinent details
  2. Contact your instructor right away. Give them specific information regarding the nature of the error, problem or mistake.
  3. Your instructor may choose to either delete your submitted attempt and let you re-do the assignment, or contact OLI Help for assistance.

OLI provides technical support to instructors and students from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, EST. You can expect to receive a reply from a member of our team within 24 hours.

To request assistance or report a problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Click the Help button in the top right corner of your screen
  2. Check to make sure your e-mail address is entered correctly
  3. Choose an appropriate category for your message.
  4. Provide details regarding your issue, these may include:
    1. Specific error message received (if applicable)
    2. What you were doing when the error occurred
    3. What you did to try to correct the problem (if applicable)
    4. Time of day the error occurred
    5. The type of internet connection you were using

Tips

  • Be as specific as possible. This will help us resolve your issue faster.
  • Many problems can be solved by checking the course Test and Configure page. This page tests your system and gives you information regarding additional plug-ins, operating systems, or browser configuration requirements for the course.

You can use your browser’s print option, but printing course content in not recommended or specifically supported by OLI. Learning activities requiring your interaction are presented throughout the courses and cannot be complete offline.

Getting Started—How do I…

See our Get Started page for details.

Click the Register link at the top of any page on this site and complete the form. We will confirm your account via email within two business days. In your confirmation email you will receive additional information and tips on getting started.

When registering, be sure to:

  1. Include the full name of your home institution (If you plan to use these materials in a home school setting, just note this in the comments section).
  2. Provide your academic e-mail account (if applicable) in the e-mail field.

Once you have an active instructor’s account, you can create your course using the Course Builder. Step-by-step instructions are available on our Educator Resources page.

OLI provides single sign-on capabilities with many LMS systems via “Basic LTI” technology.  Although exactly how this works varies by LMS (BlackBoard, Moodle, Sakai, etc.) and installation, we can help you use OLI courses with your institution’s LMS.  Please contact us for assistance.

While at this time, you cannot add your own content directly into the OLI environment, you may always distribute your own content as you like, for example through your institutional LMS system.

You can add modules from other OLI courses into your course. For example, if you were setting up a biology course in which students would need some statistics background, you can add in content from our statistics course. When creating your course, you will need to used the “Advanced Mode.” See “Adding Material from Other Curricula” on the Find Educator Resources page for detailed instructions.

After using Course Builder to create a custom course or course section, you may decide to add sections previously removed or sections from other course packages. You can do this by clicking the “Manage Course” link for your course and then clicking “Add additional content” in the “Course Materials” section. Please see the Find Educator Resources page for more detailed instructions.

Each course contains tailored activities and content. This can result in unique technical requirements for a course. Use a course’s Test and Configure page to learn the requirements specific to for that particular course.

Step by step

  • Go to the Test and Configure page for your course. A link to this page can be found on your My Courses homepage or at the top of the Syllabus page.
  • Click the Test Your System button to test your machine’s basic set-up.
  • Read the System Requirements and Configuring Your Browser sections to check for fonts, plug-ins, etc.
  • If a plug-in or additional software is required for your course, a link and/or instructions are provided.

Note: You will need to repeat this process each time you access this course from a different machine or make significant changes to your system.

You can change settings that apply to all assessments or just to one particular assessment. Please see the “Assessments” section on our Find Educator Resources page for detailed instructions.

We do not currently have print or e-copies of our courses. Our experience has been that when these types of assets are available, students will focus on the exposition and tend to skip the activities and tutors, which sidesteps much of the reason for our courses. However, we are frequently asked about this feature and may be rethinking our approach in the future.

When you create your OLI account, you will read a letter explaining the research we conduct. You will then choose whether to participate or not participate in this research.

You can change this decision at anytime. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. On your My Courses homepage, locate the My Accountsection within the left-hand navigation.
    1. If you are currently participating in the research study, you will see a link titled Research Consent Form.
    2. If you are currently opted out of the research study, the link will appear as You have opted out of research studies.
  2. Click this link to view the original Research Consent Form
  3. Make the change to your original answer or do nothing and keep your current status.

Note: Opting out of the research study will not affect your access to course materials in any way.

If you forget your password, we cannot send it to you. However, you can request that your password be reset.

If you know your Account ID:

  1. On the OLI Homepage, click the Retrieve Password link within the Sign in box. (If you click the Sign In link at the top, the link will be titled Forgot your password? instead of Retrieve Password.)
  2. Enter your account ID in the Account ID field
  3. Click the Request Password button
  4. An email will be sent to the email address listed in your profile. The email will contain instructions to log in and reset your password.

If you do not know your Account ID:

  1. On the OLI Homepage, click the Retrieve Password link within the Sign in box. (If you click the Sign In link at the top, the link will be titled Forgot your password? instead of Retrieve Password.)
  2. Enter your last name only in the Last (family) Name field
  3. Provide the email address that is listed in your profile in the Email Address field
  4. Click the Request Password button
  5. An email will be sent to the email address listed in your profile. The email will contain instructions to log in and reset your password.

Note: If you provide your last name and email but receive an error message, you probably have more than one active account on file. The system does not know which account to reset. Contact technical support by clicking the Help button in the top right corner of the window for further assistance.

Your Account ID is the unique identifier for your account. You cannot change it after you create and confirm your account.

Step by step

  1. Contact OLI technical support at oli-help@lists.andrew.cmu.edu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots; you need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Include in your message:
    • A statement that you would like to deactivate your OLI account: “Please deactivate my account.”
    • Your name, as it appears in the account.
    • The account ID that you wish to deactivate.

When you create your OLI account, you will read a letter explaining the research we conduct. You will then choose whether to participate or not participate in this research. Opting out of the research study will not affect your access to course materials in any way.

You can change this decision at anytime. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. On your My Courses homepage, locate the My Account section within the left-hand navigation.
  3. If you are currently participating in the research study, you will see a link titled Research Consent Form.
  4. If you are currently opted out of the research study, the link will appear as You have opted out of research studies.
  5. Click this link to view the original Research Consent Form
  6. Make the change to your original answer or do nothing and keep your current status.