Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Universities on the Web

Every time I delve into the MIT Open-CourseWare (OCW) site, I am blown away by the variety and quality of the offerings. d'Oliveira et al. describe the OpenCourseWare project in the July 30 issue of Science:
MIT Open-CourseWare (OCW), available at, contains the core academic content used in 2000 classes, presenting substantially all the undergraduate and graduate curriculum from MIT's 33 academic departments. A selection of courses, including introductory physics, math, and engineering, contain full video lectures. Partner organizations have created more than 800 translations of OCW courses in five languages. The OCW team has distributed over 200 copies of the entire Web site on hard drives primarily to sub-Saharan Africa, where Internet access is limited. OCW has grown into a global educational resource.

More than 200 universities worldwide have joined MIT in sharing their own educational materials openly, creating a global body of knowledge that spans many cultures and academic levels. More than 13,000 courses from these schools are available through the OpenCourseWare Consortium portal (

In 2007, OCW introduced a companion site, Highlights for High School (, which catalogs more than 2600 resources embedded in the main OCW site that correspond to U.S. Advanced Placement curricula for physics, calculus, and biology. The Highlights site has received more than 1 million visits since launch, and 70% of visitors report being mostly or completely successful at meeting their educational goals in accessing the site.
This fall, OCW will begin to introduce course materials designed specifically for use by independent learners, which will include complete sets of content, increased focus on problem-solving, and additional self-assessment opportunities. Through these and other pilot programs, the OCW team hopes to develop a better understanding of how to increase the benefits for this varied global audience.

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