Fifteen years ago on 4 April 2001, MIT announced a plan to post its course materials on the Web, freely available to everybody. The NY Times reported on the initial two-year pilot program to put material from 500 existing MIT courses onto the Web.
And 15 years later – look at it now.
MIT Open CourseWare currently makes material from 2260 courses available and receives over 2 million visits each month from all over the world. It also incorporates MITx interactive online courses from the MIT Office of Digital Learning, delivered via the edX platform.
Many of the issues around making course material openly available online that were identified as concerns in the 2001 article, are still being discussed. Will it make students less likely to come to class? Is creating websites a good use of professors’ time? Is the university giving away valuable assets? Even though the discussion is continuing, the online availability of open courseware from universities around the world is now a given, and the only question is how will it be integrated into the future of education delivery.
MIT makes its Open CourseWare material available under a CC BY-NC-SA licence and provides its own interpretation of non-commercial use. Primarily this states that: ‘users may not sell, profit from, or commercialize OCW materials or works derived from them’.
MIT continues to innovate in the area, having just released the report Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms (April 2016) that studies the impacts of online learning on the higher education community from a policy perspective As the authors’ point out:
…the question “Where does online education fit in higher education?” rapidly leads to existential questions about the what and why of higher education itself. [Karen E Willcox, Sanjay Sarma Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reform April 2016 p.iii]