MIT OpenCourseWare

Last year, MIT announced that they’d be putting their course materials up on the web, freely available for anyone to use. Yesterday, they went live with the pilot.

“The idea behind OpenCourseWare is to make the MIT course materials used in almost all undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. The hope is that OCW will advance technology-enhanced education at MIT, and will serve as a model for university dissemination of knowledge in the Internet age.”

The OpenCourseWare Site.

This is quite a significant event in the world of education. The cost of drawing all this information together on a web site must be substantial. But it is a strong acknowledgement of intellectual principles: education enriches us all.

MIT isn’t going to lose fee income because of this. No-one (or at least, vanishingly few people) will decide to just read the stuff on the web rather than spending four years on campus. Nor will it probably lead to increased tuition fee revenue. Again, few people will look at the materials on the web and say, “that’s great; I want more, so I’d better attend MIT.

It’s neither a loss leader, nor a profit source. It’s a charitable donation to the Internet, and a gift to the public domain. People all over the world will benefit massively from this resource. Bravo.