What OCW Does in the World (Happy Birthday!)

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on September 23, 2011 · 0 comments

in Public Service

MIT’s OpenCourseWare offerings are 10 years old—and wow, what an impact this free, online offering of some 2,000 MIT course materials has had. So far OCW has tracked 122 million visits by 87 million visitors from virtually every country.

Executive Director Cecilia d’Oliveira points to the mission: “In a world where the gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ continues to grow, we remain committed to open dissemination of knowledge and educational opportunity for all.” d’Oliveira’s talk at a recent awards ceremony points out OCW’s impact and the need for support.

Meanwhile, here are some stories about how OCW is changing lives:

A high school junior in a small Texas town was struggling with his physics course, when he discovered OCW, which he used to help in both physics and calculus. No one from his town had ever attended MIT but OCW changed that: he is now a freshman.

A Nigerian engineering student is using OCW to supplement his university course, which have been disrupted by local political turmoil. He wants to help others gain access too, so he plans to work with the local radio station to broadcast MIT OpenCourseWare material and to publicize the site.

A researcher at University of Washington’s Polar Science Center is using OCW to bone up on physics and math topics while she travels for weeks at a time conducting water and other direct-observation work in frozen seas. She recently used OCW materials to help her learn about string theory.

A new Florida charter school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math Florida launched a year ago—thanks to OCW materials. The principal “started the school’s curriculum from scratch” using free course materials from MIT and students study for class via iPads.






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