Cambridge, MA, Feb 22, 2011 – As the tenth anniversary of the announcement of MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) approaches, MIT has set an ambitious agenda for the program's next decade: reaching one billion minds. In the past ten years, MIT's course materials have been accessed by millions of individuals around the world through its groundbreaking OpenCourseWare program. By any measure, MIT OpenCourseWare's impact has exceeded the expectations of the faculty who first proposed the effort, tapping into a vast reservoir of unmet educational need worldwide and revealing the promise of even greater impact to come. As MIT looks to OpenCourseWare's next decade, the program seeks to deliver on that promise.
On April 4, 2001, MIT announced that the Institute would share the core academic materials—including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams—from all of its courses freely and openly on the web, providing resources that educators and learners could use to improve a wide variety of formal and informal educational experiences. In the ten years since, more than 80% of MIT's faculty members have voluntarily shared their teaching materials through OCW, amassing a collection of over 50,000 individual resources including documents, video, audio, simulations, animations and sample programming code drawn from over 2,000 courses. An estimated 100 million individuals have accessed these resources, and hundreds of universities around the world have joined MIT in sharing their own course materials freely and openly on the web.
"It's quite humbling for us to see the impact OpenCourseWare has had," says Professor Shigeru Miyagawa, who chairs the MIT OpenCourseWare Faculty Advisory Committee and was on the original faculty panel that first proposed the program. "We set out to create a resource other faculty could draw on to improve their classes, and tapped into a much larger need around the world. Millions of people have come to the site for the chance to learn, even without credit offered or access to faculty."
In the coming decade, MIT OpenCourseWare will continue to publish MIT's core academic materials—making the OCW site deeper and richer—and will also undertake a series of initiatives designed to magnify the impact of the program through a focus on four key areas of innovation: First, OCW will continue to collaborate to make OCW's materials widely available on the web through affiliate sites and mobile channels; second, OCW will undertake projects to make the materials more useful to key audiences; third, OCW will seek to create communities of open learning around MIT's content; and finally, the OCW team will focus on making the content more adoptable and adaptable for educators everywhere, helping them to share OCW content with their students.
"Our ambition is to increase the impact of OCW by an order of magnitude," says Professor Dick Yue, who chaired the committee that proposed OCW and also advises the program. "If we've reached 100 million people in our first ten years, we want to reach a billion in the next ten. If a million educators used our content in their classrooms so far, we hope to help 10 million use the content in our next decade."
MIT OpenCourseWare has already begun launching a series of projects developed out of the innovation framework, collectively called OCW's Next Decade Initiatives. Last September, OCW launched a series of study groups associated with OCW courses in collaboration with OpenStudy. In four months, these groups have attracted more than 12,000 participants. In January of this year, OCW launched the first of a new series of courses, dubbed OCW Scholar courses, designed to meet the needs of independent learners by providing more complete content and logical sequences to facilitate learning. OCW also recently announced a new iPhone app, OCW LectureHall, that provides an enhanced experience for viewing OCW lectures on that platform. These efforts join Highlights for High School, a site OCW launched in 2007 to help US high school educators and students better use OCW resources.
In May of this year, MIT will co-host the annual meeting of the OpenCourseWare Consortium on the MIT campus, welcoming 300 representatives of leading OCW programs from around the world.
An OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high quality university-level educational materials—often including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and exams—organized as courses. While OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiatives typically do not provide a degree, credit, or certification, or access to instructors, the materials are made available under open licenses for use and adaptation by educators and learners around the world.
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT's undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,000 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.5 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 100 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.