Learn Something New - Free from MIT: OpenCourseWare

We've seen our share of "Free" Online Courses on the Internet from different sources. Some of them are 'good' and some of them are mere commercial ploys for you to whip out your ever ready credit card and pay for extra content.

Most of them are from virtually unknown and unrecognized "Online Colleges and Universities" that have been sprouting like mushrooms as of late. Some of them are credible and useful, but no Free Online University could match the respectability and reputation of none other than the Massachussetts (did I spell that right?) Institute of Technology. Everybody knows and respects M.I.T. Who would imagine that a top notch University would offer some 1,800 courses online for - FREE for everyone to learn from? To top that they also have quite a collection of video and audio courses to offer.

Anyway, I recently received this email from them enjoining their subscribers to promote this great offering. Therefore, in the spirit of spreading free information I would gladly do so in my own tiny little itty bitty way:

What's New at MIT OpenCourseWare and How You Can Help

Dear Daniel,

Last November, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) celebrated a key milestone – 1,800 courses now online, representing virtually the entire MIT curriculum. More than 40 million people worldwide have accessed OCW to date and many have told us how OCW has changed their lives.

Today, as users continue to visit OCW in record numbers, we are publishing more new and updated courses, producing more video content, and adding to Highlights for High School. We are as busy as ever.

What's New at OCW

As a permanent part of the MIT academic program, OCW continues to publish about 200 courses per year – dozens of new courses that are introduced at MIT each semester, as well as updates to courses already on OCW. Here are some examples of what is happening in 2008:

  • More than 50 new courses, including brand new courses from Health Sciences and Technology, Sloan School of Management, Literature, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

  • About 150 redesigned and refreshed courses from departments like Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Chemistry, and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

  • New video lectures for courses in Mathematics, Biological Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and the Engineering Systems Division – Note: we are in the process of adding video subtitles and transcripts to improve access for hearing impaired users.

  • OCW audio and video on distribution channels such as YouTube and iTunes U

  • Expanded content in the new Highlights for High School section of OCW

  • New pages that link OCW courses to key MIT initiatives in energy and the environment

What It Takes to Support This Work

MIT OpenCourseWare is more than simply educational content from MIT made public. Each course we publish requires an investment of $10,000 to $15,000 to compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution. Courses with video content cost about twice as much, but your feedback about the significant value of these video materials helps to justify the cost.

On top of the production costs, we must also sustain a considerable technical infrastructure that manages content and distributes it through a worldwide network to a global audience and to mirror sites in bandwidth constrained regions. The total annual cost of OCW is about $4 million. The cost of free education is substantial.

MIT, which is committed to keeping OCW free and open to all, contributes significant resources to keep OCW going and growing. In addition, we depend on important support from:

How You Can Help

We look to you and other supporters around the world to help us continue our mission to share knowledge openly and to realize the vision of knowledge as a public good. OCW is a resource that benefits you and improves your world, and we are asking you to take an active role in securing the future of open education. Here are some ways you can help:

In five years, OCW has gone from a bold experiment to a global educational resource. With your help, we can keep OCW going and growing. Thanks for your support!

Without their permission, I am also going to put a big banner on my blog that would link to their website. Come to think of it, they should act like Yahoo and Blogger, and make nifty and shiny promotional buttons that bloggers could put on their sites to link to them. But I guess...they are MIT.

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