MIT OpenCourseWare

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MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to put all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online, partly free and openly available to anyone, anywhere, by the end of the year 2007. MIT OpenCourseWare can be considered as a large-scale, web-based publication of MIT course materials. The project was announced in October 2002 and adopts Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. The program was originally funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and MIT. Currently, MIT OpenCourseWare is supported by MIT, corporate underwriting, major gifts, and donations from site visitors. [1] The initiative has inspired a number of other institutions to make their course materials available as open educational resources.[2]

As of December 2010, over 2035 courses were available online. While a few of these are limited to chronological reading lists and discussion topics, a majority provided homework problems and exams (often with solutions) and lecture notes. Some courses also include interactive web demonstrations in Java or MATLAB, complete textbooks written by MIT professors, and streaming video lectures.

As of December 2010, 34 courses included complete video lectures; not all of these have complete lecture notes. The video is available in streaming mode, but may also be downloaded for viewing offline. Many video and audio files are also available from iTunes U.




The concept for MIT OpenCourseWare grew out of the MIT Council on Education Technology, which was charged by MIT provost Robert Brown in 1999 with determining how MIT should position itself in the distance learning/e-learning environment. The MIT OpenCourseWare was then initiated to provide a new model for the dissemination of knowledge and collaboration among scholars around the world, and contributes to the “shared intellectual commons” in academia, which fosters collaboration across MIT and among other scholars. The project was spearheaded by Hal Abelson and other MIT Faculty.

The main challenge in implementing the OCW initiative had not been faculty resistance, but rather, the logistical challenges presented by determining ownership and obtaining publication permission for the massive amount of intellectual property items that are embedded in the course materials of MIT's faculty, in addition to the time and technical effort required to convert the educational materials to an online format. Copyright in MIT OpenCourseWare material remains with MIT, members of its faculty, or its students.

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