MIT OpenCourseWare: 6 years later, bigger than ever

After six years, all doubts have been allayed. OpenCourseWare not only provides great value to intelligent people around the world, it has enhanced MIT's brand and increased applications.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

By just about any measure, MIT's OpenCourseWare Project is a success, reports the New York Times.

Celebrating its sixth anniversary, the OpenCourseWare Project's goal is to put MIT's course materials online, for free. The coursework is provided under a Creative Commons license which limits usage to noncommercial purposes only.

According to Steve Carson, the project's director of external relations, almost all 1,800 courses having some sort of representation online and the site is getting 2 million visits a month.

"It is so much bigger than we could have ever imagined," said Shigeru Miyagawa, a professor of linguistics and Japanese, who was on the committee that originally proposed the plan. "The number of visits that we get is beyond belief. We really didn't know who would be using it when we went into this at the very beginning."

There were, of course, concerns. The faculty had to agree to share lecture notes, slide presentations, sample tests, syllabuses and reading lists. Then OpenCourseWare's 25 employees had to obtain permission to use other people's creative work that crop up in the slides and lectures.

There was also the worry that if all this information was made available for free, would students still pay to enroll in classes? University officials say, making coursework available online has only served to get students more interested in enrolling.

Anne Margulies, executive director of OpenCourseWare, said: "The best thing MIT can do is share what we have here to those who can't come here and hope others would do the same thing."
Editorial standards