MIT's Open CourseWare Promotes Education For All
December 30, 2013

MIT’s Open CourseWare Promotes Education For All

College course work is hard on everyone. Students struggle to learn and master the information while professors struggle with preparation and materials as well as grading and helping students learn. These struggles are some of the most fulfilling for all parties; however, the struggle is still present. Through technology, students, teachers, and even just self-learners have begun to have access to tools to help with the struggles of education.

One such tool comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is called Open CourseWare (OCW). The OCW “is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.” As the website further explains:

“Through OCW, educators improve courses and curricula, making their schools more effective; students find additional resources to help them succeed; and independent learners enrich their lives and use the content to tackle some of our world’s most difficult challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and cancer eradication.”

This program works to share the knowledge that MIT professors have in order to improve education for all. The MIT OCW website shares that the visitors consist of the following:

  • 43 percent self-learners
  • 42 percent students
  • 9 percent educators
  • 6 percent others

The fact that 85 percent of visitors are those who are in the throws of learning really inspires me. As an educator, I am excited about the prospects of this idea. An open forum where people share curricula and class ideas is fabulous. From the perspective of the professor, I am excited about seeing what others do and finding inspiration from those ideas. Sharing course curricula from an institute so well revered really shows the leadership that MIT promotes. Furthermore, I can direct my students to this website to further help them.

Whether a person is a professional in her field of work or just one who is interested in learning more about something, MIT promotes lifelong learning through this program. For those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, having access to this information is absolutely awesome. For those who are interested learners, through OCW they are able to find reliable information to guide their studies and supplement their learning. For educators, we have a place to help us renew our own coursework and continue to further our own knowledge.

I mean, this is just so great.

There are a few bits of information to know before starting. The MIT OCW site notes:

  • OCW makes the materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT’s subjects available online and free of charge.
  • No registration, no enrollment, and no grades or credits are offered.
  • We do not provide interaction or direct contact with MIT faculty, staff, or students.
  • There are no prerequisites to use OCW materials.
  • We encourage you to use, reuse, and mix our content so long as you follow our terms.
  • We hope you enjoy using OCW and share it with your friends, family, and colleagues.

The most important of these, though, is that the information is free. F-R-E-E! What a great resource for researching, for learning, for improving. I am so excited by the prospects of this because the site offers over 2,100 courses as of today, so even though MIT is primarily a STEM-focused school, it also has great courses in the arts and humanities. For me, the OCW is a perfect way to mesh both my worlds of science and arts.

Though I teach English courses (writing and literature), I absolutely adore sciences and health. The OCW allows me access to information about all these areas. I simply can’t wait to peruse it more for both my professional world and my personal interests. And I can’t wait to see how it grows in the future.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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