MIT puts entire curriculum online

1,800 undergraduate and graduate courses are available for noncommercial use

MIT has put its entire curriculum of 1,800 undergraduate and graduate courses online, making the courses available for free to any user with an Internet connection and a Web browser.

First announced in 2001, MIT's OpenCourseWare includes syllabuses, homework assignments, exams, reference materials and video lectures when available. The information is published under an open license that allows for reuse, distribution and modification of the materials for noncommercial purposes, said OCW spokesman Steve Carson.

"There are lecture notes, exams, homework assignments from about 15,000 lectures, about 9,000 homework assignments, 900 exams. And with the homework assignments and exams, about 40% of them include the solutions, so you can check your work and see how well you've done," Carson said. "For many of the courses, we've been able to add certain types of special enhancements. If there's a simulation or animation that the faculty member has created, we've included that."

An estimated 35 million people have accessed OCW course materials since the program's inception, Carson said.

"There's been a lot of traffic from China, India and South Korea," he said. "Sixty percent of users are from the outside the United States. And nearly 600 courses have been translated into [other] languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai."

Carson said MIT has also provided more than 120 local copies of the OCW site to universities in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa where bandwidth is tight.

In addition, 160 universities from countries and regions around the world, including Spain, China, Japan, Africa, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia, have also published an estimated 5,000 courses, he said.

To date, the project has cost $29 million -- much less than the $100 million price tag that had been projected. Funding was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ab Initio Software Corp. and MIT, Carson said.

Carson said MIT expects to add 50 new courses each year.

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