MIT Putting Course Material Online Free of Charge
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - April 4, 2001 - The Massachusetts Institute of Technologyin an unprecedented step in world-wide educationannounced today it plans to make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the Internet over the next ten years.
The website for the projectMIT OpenCourseWarewould include material such as lecture notes, course outlines, reading lists, and assignments for each course. Over the next decade, the project expects to provide materials for over 2,000 courses across MIT's entire curriculumin architecture and planning, engineering, humanities, arts, social sciences, management, and science.
MIT President Charles M. Vest said of the program: "MIT OpenCourseWare is a bold move that will change the way the Web is used in higher education. With the content posted for all to use, it will provide an extraordinary resource, free of charge, which others can adapt to their own needs. We see it as source material that will support education worldwide, including innovations in the process of teaching and learning itself."
Professor Steven Lerman, chair of the MIT faculty, said that the project stemmed both from enthusiasm for the opportunities that the Internet affords for wide-spread sharing of educational ideas, and from concern over the growing "privatization of knowledge." He noted that many universities, including MIT, see the Internet as a means of delivering revenue-generating distance education.
But, he said, "we also need to take advantage of the tremendous power of the Internet to build on the tradition at MIT and in American higher education of open dissemination of educational materials and innovations in teaching."
The project would begin as a large-scale pilot program over the next two years, starting with the design of the software and services needed to support such a large endeavor, as well as protocols to monitor and assess its utilization by faculty and students at MIT and throughout the world. By the end of the two-year period, it is expected that materials for more than 500 courses would be available on the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) site.
MIT sees a variety of benefits coming from the MIT OCW project:
- Institutions around the world could make direct use of the MIT OCW materials as references and sources for curriculum development. These materials might be of particular value in developing countries that are trying to expand their higher education systems rapidly.
- Individual learners could draw upon the materials for self-study or supplementary use.
- The MIT OCW infrastructure could serve as a model for other institutions that choose to make similar content open and available.
- Over time, if other universities adopt this model, a vast collection of educational resources will develop and facilitate widespread exchange of ideas about innovative ways to use those resources in teaching and learning.
- MIT OCW will serve as a common repository of information and channel of intellectual activity that can stimulate educational innovation and cross-disciplinary educational ventures.
The program will continue the tradition of MIT's leadership in educational innovation, as exemplified by the engineering science revolution in the 1960s. At that time, MIT engineering faculty radically revised their curricula and produced new textbooks that brought the tools of modern science, mathematics, and computing into the core of the engineering curriculum. As their students joined the engineering faculties of universities throughout the country, they took with them their own course notes from MIT, and spread the new approach to engineering education.
In similar spirit, but with new technologies, MIT OCW will make it possible to quickly disseminate new knowledge and educational content in a wide range of fields. President Vest commented that the idea of OpenCourseWare is particularly appropriate for a research university such as MIT, where ideas and information move quickly from the laboratory into the educational program, even before they are published in textbooks.
MIT believes that implementation of OCW will complement and stimulate innovation in ways that may not even be envisioned at this point. "We expect that MIT OCW will raise the tide of educational innovation within MIT and elsewhere," said MIT Provost Robert A. Brown.
"By making up-to-date educational content widely available," he said, "OCW will focus faculty efforts on teaching and learning on their campuses. It also will facilitate a new style of national and global collaboration in education through the sharing of educational content and the potential of telecommunications for real-time interactions."
The concept of MIT OpenCourseWare was born from deliberations of a study group chartered by MIT's Council on Educational Technology. The Council, a group of educational leaders from throughout MIT, asked the study group to consider ways to use Internet technology to enhance education within MIT as well as MIT's influence on education on a global scale. The group was composed of faculty and staff from MIT, and was assisted by consultants from Booz-Allen & Hamilton (BAH), who are helping with organizational aspects of the project.
The Booz-Allen team was led by BAH Vice President Reginald Van Lee. Mr. Van Lee, an MIT alumnus, said "MIT continues its role as the preeminent, global leader in the development and dissemination of new ideas and knowledge. We are excited to have contributed to this innovative and important step in the advancement of higher education."
MIT Lab for Computer Science