Web Tool of the Week #9:
This year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed 15,661 applications for its Fall 2009 freshman class. They accepted 1,675 and, in the process, shattered the dreams of thousands of eager high school students. Then again, maybe not.
MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative may help soften the blow for those devastated students by allowing them to access many of the school’s class materials online- for FREE. The university’s high standards and high tuition ($52,000 next year if you include room and board) have precluded many people from studying there, but MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is less discriminating, putting boundless knowledge at the fingertips of anyone with an Internet connection.
Launched in September 2002, MIT OpenCourseWare gives people free access to almost all of the content in their 1,900 graduate and undergraduate courses. Practically anything you’d want to access from a course is available: syllabi, lecture notes, problem sets, exams, reading lists, even video lectures. You name it- you’ve got it. In addition, MIT has partnered with other schools that are officially translating the materials into Spanish, Portuguese, simplified and traditional Chinese, Persian and Thai.
Since the Web site went live, it has had 86 million visits by 62 million visitors from virtually every country, averaging 1 million visits each month (translations receive 500,000 more). Visitors from all over the world use OpenCourseWare. Talk about Global Learning!
And don’t assume the majority of users are rejected MIT applicants. Take a look at the knowledge-hungry people accessing the site:
|Use Scenario||% of Use|
|Educators||Improve personal knowledge||31%|
|Learn new teaching methods||23%|
|Incorporate OCW materials into a course||20%|
|Find reference material for my students||15%|
|Develop curriculum for my department or school||8%|
|Students||Enhance personal knowledge||46%|
|Complement a current course||34%|
|Plan a course of study||16%|
|Explore areas outside my professional field||40%|
|Review basic concepts in my professional field||18%|
|Prepare for future course of study||18%|
|Keep current with developments in my field||17%|
|Complete a work-related project or task||4%|
***According to a recent usage survey, 96% of educators say the site has/will help improve their teaching!***
The OCW project even has a specialized program dedicated to High School users. Highlights for High School features MIT OpenCourseWare materials that have been determined the most useful for high school students and teachers. The site was recently selected as a “Landmark Website” by the American Association of School Librarians. Here’s the link:
Here’s a link to a video about the Highlights for High School arm of the OCW project:
In addition to Global Learning, let’s not forget about Mobile Learning. When you see a student in the hall with earbuds in (after school, of course!), imagine that they could actually be studying and learning! MIT on iTunes U contains video and audio files of MIT faculty lectures, public lectures, and community events (my personal favorite is the MIT Soapbox lecture series). All you have to do is search the iTunes U library section of iTunes.
Note: You need to have iTunes software installed on your computer to download the podcasts & vodcasts (videos). The safest way to do this on your laptop is by accessing the setup files for iTunes located on our common “Z” drive. You’ll find it in a folder called “Software”. If you need help, just ask a tech facilitator.
Additionally, all of the videos available on MIT iTunes U can also be accessed here:
You know the old adage “knowledge is power”. That’s like, soooo last century! Learning and succeeding in the 21st Century are all about sharing knowledge, not hoarding it. The more we share our ideas, the better we (and our students) become. The new principle is “Sharing knowledge is power”. Kudos to MIT for being at the forefront of this educational mindset.