Friday, December 08, 2006

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare was the first OpenCourseWare project and is one of the largest and most successful. It is a prime example of the kind of successes that OpenCourseWare enables.

It was the brainchild of a committee of faculty, students, and administrators at MIT in 1999. They were formed to discuss distance learning, and the general understanding was that they would come up with a traditional distance learning program. Instead, they developed the idea for MIT OpenCourseWare, which was, in their words "in line with MIT's mission (to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century) and is true to MIT's values of excellence, innovation, and leadership."

The program now has 1400 courses with materials available online. It is used by approximately 80% of the MIT faculty (on a strictly voluntary basis - no-one is required to make course materials available). And, it has had a wonderful effect on the quality of life and education at MIT.

Enrolled MIT students use it to catch up on classes or to get materials from classes they are considering.

Faculty use it to reach students outside of MIT, and have re-energized their teaching with it in mind.

Potential MIT students use it to check out the courses available at MIT. (It has been great marketing for MIT.)

Alumni use it to check in on former professors and to remain up to date in their fields.

Non-MIT-affiliated members of the general public, from students at other universities, to scientists, to teachers around the world, use it to learn and study areas of interest to them.

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