In 2001 MIT announced a bold initiative to publicly share its course materials – lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and video lectures – with the world.
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a large-scale, Web-based publication of the entire MIT curriculum. Educational materials range from undergraduate core subjects to the most advanced graduate electives. This unique initiative enables the open sharing of MIT teaching materials with educators, enrolled students, and self-learners around the world. This publication of course materials created by faculty (and sometimes by other colleagues or students) also supports teaching and learning at MIT.
Conceived and developed by MIT faculty, OCW draws on a tradition of open sharing at MIT that stretches back at least to the 1950s. It embodies the Institute's mission to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship to best serve the world. More than 9,000 individuals, including a significant number of MIT faculty, have voluntarily contributed original materials for publication on OCW.
Thank you so much for creating and sharing this truly fantastic site for the knowledge seekers out there. In today's society so many people stay busy and it's important to have quality places to continue education in a pace that suits the student as well as being readily accessible. — an OCW learner
Unlocking knowledge and empowering minds
OCW is a free, publicly accessible, openly-licensed digital resource that offers high-quality teaching and learning materials structured around courses and presented in an easily accessible format. This Institute-wide undertaking has touched more than 200 million people in every country on Earth. Materials from over 2,400 courses are available under a Creative Commons license that encourages use, reuse, and redistribution.
People can access video and audio content published on OCW through additional channels like YouTube and iTunes U. Global mirror sites further expand the OCW audience to include people living where Internet bandwidth is limited. And partner organizations translate OCW content from its original English into six other languages.
A global audience for MIT faculty
The faculty at MIT broadly support OCW as a way to disseminate MIT’s pedagogical approaches and ideas. Publishing course materials on OCW is an easy way for MIT faculty to vastly expand their reach and influence.
For educators, students, and self-learners
From OCW’s extensive ongoing evaluation process, we have learned that 8% of OCW visitors are educators, 38% students, 49% self-learners, and 5% other. These educators use our web platform to improve their courses and curricula, with 50% reporting that they have adopted MIT materials in their teaching. Most of the remainder say they plan to do so.
Among all visitors, 98% say OCW has made a positive impact in their lives. Thousands and thousands of users in all educational roles have expressed their appreciation for OCW. For students on campus and off, OCW offers a convenient way to find supplemental resources for their studies. Independent learners use OCW to gain knowledge to enrich their lives and make them more valuable contributors at work and in society.
Impact by the numbers
Traffic and use of MIT course materials continue to set records. Total visits to MIT content (including translations) now surpass 2.5 million per month. We receive over 600 emails per month from online learners. Also, to keep users engaged, the OCW team uses a robust communications program that includes social media outlets with large numbers of followers, and a monthly newsletter with over 230,000 subscribers.
Our OCW Educator initiative provides faculty with a way to share both their course materials and how they use them. Faculty publishing on OCW can elect to include teaching insights and information about pedagogy on a special course page called This Course at MIT.
Curriculum that’s easy to follow
OCW Scholar is a distinctive set of OCW courses designed for independent learners who have few additional resources available to them. The materials are substantially more complete than typical OCW courses and include custom-created content as well as materials repurposed from MIT classrooms. They’re arranged in logical sequences and include multimedia such as video and simulations.
Highlights for High School
Highlights for High School is an open educational resource developed by MIT OpenCourseWare that provides free classroom materials for high school educators, students, and parents. The materials are drawn from MIT undergraduate courses, course materials created by MIT faculty specifically for the high school audience, and MIT outreach programs aimed at high school students. The website is organized to enable students to find a variety of content, such as courses, labs, exam preparation resources, and videos. Highlights for High School leverages existing OCW materials, includes new high-school-oriented materials, customizes access for the secondary education audience, and utilizes tools to evaluate impact. The materials are designed to be engaging and exciting, in a way that will best serve high school students and teachers.
Open education movement
Today, OCW is a flourishing MIT institution and a global model for open sharing in higher education. We know from our research and from many thousands of user emails that OCW is improving education and bringing new opportunities to people everywhere, sometimes changing lives in profound ways. Nearly 300 universities and other organizations have since followed our lead. MIT is widely acknowledged as having sparked a worldwide open education movement.
We make publishing easy
Once faculty members create their course materials, they can publish on OCW with very little additional work. Our staff handles nearly all of the publishing work, leaving little more than final review and approval to the instructor.
The OCW publication team formats all materials, builds the course site, and offers content development services that include transcription and video. Our staff promotes each new course through the OCW New Courses page, social media channels, and the monthly OCW newsletter.