My thoughts in a unedited draft format:
I really believe strongly in the value of an open course. The restrictions of a closed course are institutional affiliation and the domino is geographic affiliation. Sure, online delivery helps open borders but ultimately if one does not know a product exists, you are unable to consider it as an option. Even further, most courses are part of a program, and accreditation and transferring credits become limiting factors to taking courses outside of your program.
Accordingly, the value of the open course is that it breaks the institutional barrier, it breaks the program barrier, and it breaks the geographical barrier.
As a traditional citizen in the USA, I consider my options when attending University based around the type of program I would like to participate in, the institutions that are reputable in the that program, that have geographic accessibility. Alternatively, I might consider an institution as an option, and then select a program that I might be interested in at that institution.
As a result, I miss the opportunity to interact with faculty outside of my university, outside of my program, and outside of my geographic area. Very rarely do you have an opportunity to interact with “field leaders” outside of your institution. If your institution has an excellent program, but lacks leaders, you will completely miss out on “current dialog” and “program directional changes.” You are left perpetuating the system, and ultimately that structure fails the value of education for any student.
Sure, this particular open-course environment without credits makes us function more like peers and less like students. However, true value is not restricted to the confines of credits in a university. In fact, I am presently not attending university at all. I simply appreciate the dialog in an active field.
For me, the value then shifts from “not participating outside of my immediate contacts,” to having an opportunity to engage, without those university restrictions, with peers of similar interest across the globe, which I would contend to be far more valuable than any potential credits. This is my personal professional development, and it is extremely more valuable than signing up for any arbitrary 3 credit hours with a university to stay engaged.
Certainly the structure, direction, and feedback that are planned into the course are all crucial elements to the success of the delivery.