Already one of the richest collections of openly shared educational materials in the world, the MIT OpenCourseWare website has reached a significant milestone: With the publication of 10 new courses in the last two weeks, the site now shares core academic materials — including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams — from more than 2,000 MIT courses.
First announced in 2001, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is an ambitious effort to share MIT's education resources freely and openly on the web to improve formal and informal learning worldwide. All materials are available free of charge and without registration. The site's first courses were published in 2002, and by November 2007 the site contained materials from more than 1,800 MIT courses, representing a substantial amount of the MIT undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
Since completing the initial publication of the MIT curriculum, the OCW team has shifted focus to publishing updates to previously published courses, but has continued to capture 50 to 70 new courses each year as they are developed by MIT faculty. The addition of these new courses has brought the total number of unique courses on the site to 2,000.
"OCW is truly an MIT community achievement," says OCW Executive Director Cecilia d'Oliveira. "These 2,000 courses represent the voluntary contributions of hundreds of MIT faculty and thousands of MIT students. It's a remarkable feat of intellectual philanthropy."
Since the site was launched in 2002, OCW materials have been visited on the MIT site or partner translation sites 98 million times by an estimated 70 million visitors from around the world. OCW materials are used by faculty, students and independent learners worldwide for a wide variety of purposes. Educators use the materials to improve courses and curricula at their schools; students supplement materials provided for their courses with the content from MIT; and independent learners study for pleasure or in the context of their professional activities.
In the past 10 years, OCW has collected hundreds of user stories illustrating the impact of the resource. One example is consultant Biasco Nunez, who describes the importance of OCW to the businesses he serves in Trujillo, Peru. "I provide consulting services to small business owners within the community, including Basics of Business Administration and Technology. OCW represents for all of us, Peruvian small entrepreneurs, workers and teachers all together the most valuable source of knowledge available all the world over."