Through the OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) initiative, MIT makes its faculty's core teaching materials openly available for anyone, anywhere in the world with access to the Internet. We have found that, with 1,100 of MIT's classes available, the project is helping those it was designed to help -- educators, enrolled students, and self-learners around the world -- by providing a high-quality publication of MIT's core teaching materials.
What difference does it make? The MIT OCW evaluation team is studying how individuals' teaching and learning experiences change (if at all) through the use of the site, and we also want to understand what broader effects OCW may have. Early results have shown that:
MIT OCW users overwhelmingly are finding that OCW has, or will have, significant positive impact on both teaching and learning activities. Over 80% of all users report either positive impact or extremely positive impact, 18% report moderate or some positive impact and less than 2% reporting no positive impact.
Educators plan to reuse MIT OCW materials in their teaching activities. Over 97% of users who identified themselves as educators expressed satisfaction with the quality of the course materials published in MIT OCW. Over 47% have reused MIT OCW materials (or plan to), and 41% may reuse materials in the future.
In measuring long-term success, we find that the challenge for MIT and for educational institutions across our society lay in the second half of OCW's organizational mission: will other like-minded institutions begin to publish their educational materials freely and openly online? The hope is that one day, by sharing MIT's course materials, along with our experience thus far in developing the MIT OCW publication process, we will inspire other institutions to openly share their course materials, creating a worldwide web of knowledge that will benefit humanity.
While recognizing that people in the developing world - who may benefit most from the open sharing of knowledge - are hindered by a lack of Internet access and connectivity, we must not let this problem obscure our vision of the future, but rather, take it as a challenge: Can the decision-makers of the world's leading educational institutions use what we are doing on our campuses to improve the lives of people around the world? History has proved that education and discovery are best advanced when knowledge is shared openly. We believe the idea of opencourseware is an opportunity that we must seize during the next decade.