Director Letter

Dear Friend of OCW,

This fall we have gathered an amazingly rich variety of course materials from MIT faculty, who continue to innovate with their teaching to improve student learning. We are working on more than 70 new and updated courses such as Creating Video Games, Digital Humanities, String Theory and Holographic Duality to Biomolecular Feedback Systems, Libertarianism in Metaphysics to name just a few.

OCW recently published the first course with interactive reading questions and assessments: 18.05 Introduction to Probability and Statistics. The instructors overhauled the classroom version of this course to offer interactive reading questions and immediate feedback for problems. OCW was able to replicate this interactivity on the 18.05 course site, which includes in-class and post-class slides (which have solutions to the board problems, clicker questions, and discussion questions), full problem sets with solutions, and an interactive problem checker that gives immediate feedback.

screenshot of MIT OpenCourseware page illustrating new interactive features
In the new Instructor Insights section, the instructors reflect on how they restructured the course to bring active learning into the classroom and discuss the challenges of teaching a course in this new way. Several other interactive courses and features are in the pipeline.

Improving OCW’s value and usability

With nearly 2,300 courses available on OCW, it can be challenging to understand how subjects fit together. We are adding more contextual information to courses to show how courses on a given topic relate to one another. We are also providing links to MITx courses currently running on the same subject, and highlighting new courses and “hidden gems” on the main homepage and on every department page.

We know there are OCW learners who have disabilities, and we’re committed to making OCW more accessible to this community. All new audio and video materials include subtitles, and we are adding the ability to search transcripts that scroll as the video progresses, so that the learner can go to the exact place in the video where the search term appears. There are 83 courses that include full video lectures and 60% have complete instructor subtitles. Retrofitting this capability for existing materials is challenging and costly, and we are working to close that gap within the next couple of years.

Reaching milestones

Since OCW went live in 2003 with our first 50 courses, more than 200 million people have visited OCW. Most of this traffic comes through the OCW website, but there are several other channels as well, including iTunes U (51.8 million downloads), YouTube (82.5 million views), mirror sites in remote regions of the world, translation sites, and others. We are humbled by the interest and enthusiasm of so many individuals in every part of the world.

Next year we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of OCW. We are as energized as ever as we introduce new innovations to OCW while we continue to publish the new instructional materials of the MIT faculty. Look for more courses with richer content and new interactive elements in the months and years to come. And of course whatever we publish will remain free, open, and available to the world.

We will be launching our fall fundraising drive next month, and we hope you’ll play an active role in our continued success by supporting OCW now and in the future.

Cecilia d'Oliveira
Associate Dean of Digital Learning
MIT OpenCourseWare