Sharing Course Materials

In this section, Prof. Demaine shares his thoughts about sharing course materials and describes the ways in which his course materials, available on OCW, have been used.

You never know who is going to use these materials, which is what makes this sharing so powerful.

—Prof. Erik Demaine

I would like to encourage other educators to share their materials from their courses. I really love the OCW mission of sharing everything that we have from an educational standpoint so that more people can use those materials how they want, and students can directly browse through class material or learn things that pique their interests. With more resources available, especially video lectures, we can mix-and-match and take a “best of breed.” I am really excited going forward with all this technology so that we can capture special classes that do not exist in other places, as well as the more common courses. It is a step forward in finding who teaches which topic best and collectively discovering the best ways to teach things.

MIT Faculty Using OCW

I hear that a lot of MIT faculty watch my video lectures in order to learn how to teach something, primarily for the lower-level courses that the faculty take turns teaching. In that sense, I think that there is a lot of cross-sharing. This intellectual space is a fun world to be in because while the first priority is to share with the students—both here at MIT and from other countries—there is a side benefit of connecting with other educators, which is equally useful!

MIT Students Using OCW

For undergraduate courses, my understanding is that MIT students use OCW to preview courses and to shop around for a course. I advise a handful of undergraduate students who are not taking my courses but tell me that they watch the OCW version of the courses I have taught because they like my style or wanted a different approach to the materials. I also sometimes go on OCW to advise my students on their course schedules, and after scanning the course materials, I can let them know whether the course seems like a good fit for what they are looking for.

Self-Learners Using OCW

It is pretty neat how self-driven students are. I have received emails from random people all over the world. My favorite one was from a group at Fruit of the Loom saying that every week, they get together and watch an algorithms lecture. These may be people who have already been to university, or people who haven’t been to university, or people at a school that does not offer this course or does not teach it as well. You never know who is going to use these materials, which is what makes this sharing so powerful. It is great to be able to reach an audience that you would have no way to reach locally.