MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare

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MIT OpenCourseWare is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 (MIT) to put all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online
ONLINE is a magazine for information systems first published in 1977. The publisher Online, Inc. was founded the year before. In May 2002, Information Today, Inc. acquired the assets of Online Inc....

, partly free
Free content
Free content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, artwork, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work...

 and openly available to anyone, anywhere. MIT OpenCourseWare is a large-scale, web-based
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

 publication of MIT course materials. The project was announced in October 2002 and uses Creative Commons
Creative Commons licenses
Creative Commons licenses are several copyright licenses that allow the distribution of copyrighted works. The licenses differ by several combinations that condition the terms of distribution. They were initially released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S...

 Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. The program was originally funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a private foundation, established by Hewlett-Packard cofounder William Reddington Hewlett and his wife Flora Lamson Hewlett in 1967. The Hewlett Foundation awards grants to support educational and cultural institutions and to advance certain social and...

, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City and Princeton, New Jersey in the United States, is a private foundation with five core areas of interest, endowed with wealth accumulated by the late Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969...

, and MIT. Currently, MIT OpenCourseWare is supported by MIT, corporate underwriting, major gifts, and donations from site visitors. The initiative has inspired a number of other institutions to make their course materials available as open educational resources
Open educational resources
Open educational resources are digital materials that can be re-used for teaching, learning, research and more, made available for free through open licenses, which allow uses of the materials that would not be easily permitted under copyright alone...


As of November 2011, over 2080 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
Java (programming language)
Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities...

, complete textbooks written by MIT professors, and streaming
Streaming media
Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a streaming provider.The term "presented" is used in this article in a general sense that includes audio or video playback. The name refers to the delivery method of the medium rather...

 video lectures.

As of November 2011, 46 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 of MIT OpenCourseWare grew out of the MIT Council on Education Technology, which was charged by MIT provost
Provost (education)
A provost is the senior academic administrator at many institutions of higher education in the United States, Canada and Australia, the equivalent of a pro-vice-chancellor at some institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland....

 Robert Brown in 1999 with determining how MIT should position itself in the distance learning/e-learning environment. 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 professors Dick K.P Yue , Shigeru Miyagawa, Hal Abelson
Hal Abelson
Harold Abelson is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, a fellow of the IEEE, and is a founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation....

 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
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 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
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 in MIT OpenCourseWare material remains with MIT, members of its faculty, or its students.

In September 2002, the MIT OpenCourseWare proof-of-concept pilot site opened to the public, offering 32 courses. In September 2003, MIT OpenCourseWare published its 500th course, including some courses with complete streaming video lectures. By September 2004, 900 MIT courses were available online. The response from MIT faculty and students has been very positive and MIT OpenCourseWare is seen as being consistent 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.

In 2005, MIT OpenCourseWare and other leading open educational resources
Open educational resources
Open educational resources are digital materials that can be re-used for teaching, learning, research and more, made available for free through open licenses, which allow uses of the materials that would not be easily permitted under copyright alone...

 projects formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which seeks to extend the reach and impact of open course materials, foster new open course materials and develop sustainable models for open course material publication.


MIT OCW was originally served by a custom content management system
Content management system
A content management system is a system providing a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based...

 based on Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

's Microsoft Content Management Server, which was replaced in mid-2010 with a Plone-based content management system. The publishing process is described by MIT as a "large-scale digital publishing infrastructure consists of planning tools, a content management system (CMS), and the MIT OpenCourseWare content distribution infrastructure".

Video content for the courses were originally primarily in RealMedia
RealMedia is a proprietary multimedia container format created by RealNetworks. Its extension is ".rm". It is typically used in conjunction with RealVideo and RealAudio and is used for streaming content over the Internet....

 format. In 2008, OCW transitioned to using YouTube as the primary digital video streaming platform form the site, embedding YouTube video back into the OCW site. OCW video and audio files are also provided in full for offline downloads on iTunesU and the Internet Archive
Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

. In 2011, OCW introduced an iPhone App called LectureHall in partnership with Irynsoft
Irynsoft is a software and services company that is focused on mobile and web technologies. Irynsoft is based in the Bay Area of California and was established as an LLC in late 2009....



The annual cost of running MIT OCW is about $3.5 million per year. They are currently projected to run out of financial reserves in FY2012 without additional sources of funding.

See also

  • OpenCourseWare
    OpenCourseWare, or OCW, is a term applied to course materials created by universities and shared freely with the world via the internet. The movement started in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published videos of lectures online in the context of its timms initiative...

  • Open educational resources
    Open educational resources
    Open educational resources are digital materials that can be re-used for teaching, learning, research and more, made available for free through open licenses, which allow uses of the materials that would not be easily permitted under copyright alone...

  • Connexions
    Connexions is a global repository of educational content provided by Rice University. The entire collection is available free of charge, and students and learners alike can explore all the content they desire....

    , by Rice University
    Rice University
    William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

  • China Open Resources for Education
    China Open Resources for Education
    The China Open Resources for Education is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to promote closer interaction and open sharing of educational resources between Chinese and international universities, which CORE envisions as the future of world education.CORE aims to provide Chinese...

     (CORE), MIT OCW's partnership in China
  • Tufts OpenCourseWare
    Tufts OpenCourseWare
    The Tufts OpenCourseWare project, is a web-based publication of educational material from a number of Tufts University courses, providing open sharing of free, searchable, high-quality course content to educators, students, and self-learners throughout the global community...

  • Open.Michigan
    Open.Michigan is a collection of open initiatives and projects at the University of Michigan . Open.Michigan supports the open access and use of U-M resources for teaching, learning, and research. Open.Michigan promotes open content licensing and supports the reuse, redistribution, and remixing of...

    The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning is a Government of India sponsored collaborative educational programme. By developing curriculum-based video and web courses the programme aims to enhance the quality of engineering education in India...

     by IITs and IISc (India)

External links