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MIT to Show All

University will give world free access to its courseware on the Web.
April 4, 2001

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that it plans to publish nearly all its course-related material online, free to anyone, anywhere.

Over the next ten years, the project-called OpenCourseWare-will make available on the Web the syllabi, lecture notes and supplemental materials from MIT’s roughly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate courses.

“OpenCourseWare extends our belief that education can be advanced by constantly opening access to information,” MIT President Charles Vest told reporters.

Currently, only 20 percent of courses have Web sites, MIT administrators say.

Over the next two years, the school will create 500 course sites at an estimated cost of $7.5 to $10 million. Vest says the university is seeking outside funding for the project.

The university considered charging people to access its courses online, said Dick Yue, MIT’s associate dean of engineering and the chair of the faculty subcommittee that designed the project. However, Yue said, the committee ultimately dropped pay models in favor of OpenCourseWare.

“The university isn’t about selling courses for profit,” said Dean of the Faculty Steve Lerman. “It’s very much about how do you disseminate and create new knowledge.”

Vest called the program an extension of traditional academic sharing-“speeded up to Internet time.” No online credits or degrees are planned.

“We are not providing an MIT education on the Web,” Vest said. “Real education involves interactions between people.”

Suzana Lisanti, leader of MIT’s Web Communications Services, is developing an OpenCourseWare prototype using existing MIT course pages. “We’ve created eight sample courses,” Lisanti said. “How is this different from OpenCourseWare? The difference is there will be two thousand of these.”

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