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OCW Pilot To Unveil Web Sites Monday

By Kathy Lin

STAFF REPORTER

The MIT OpenCourseWare project will unveil Web sites for 32 MIT classes in 17 departments on Monday, as part of its pilot offering to the public. The sites will be accessible at <http://ocw.mit.edu>.

Each class will offer “course syllabi, lecture notes, Java applets, graphics, tutorials, simulations, and other course materials,” said Jon Paul Potts, the OCW communications manager.

Many MIT classes already have Web sites with similar information, but “what’s different about OCW is that it’s comprehensive and searchable,” said Anne H. Margulies, the OCW executive director. “The sites are designed to be easy to read and easy to navigate. We’ve built in some basic features for help and feedback.”

“What we hope to do over time is to give a view of not only just a course, but of an entire progression of study within each discipline,” she said.

After receiving comments on the pilot offering, Potts said he anticipates the next round of classes to be released to the public early next year.

OCW aims to help around world

By providing MIT course materials free of charge to the public, OCW is intended to help professors and students learn around the world, said Professor Steven R. Lerman ’72, although the materials are not intended to replace a secondary education.

“There are many places where faculty have much higher teaching loads, or where they haven’t had access to this material,” he said.

“It’s not yet clear to me how they might help me in my own teaching, but there is always a lot to learn from seeing how others do something,” said Alice Silverberg, a mathematics professor at Ohio State University.

“To make knowledge freely available is to follow very democratic, idealistic, and laudable principles,” she said. “MIT will be leading the way in showing universities how to better serve society.”

Pilot gives first materials to public

This pilot will be the first time that the public has had access to OCW since the program’s announcement in April 2001. “We’re opening it up to the public to ask for their feedback,” Margulies said. “We are in our ‘discover and build’ phase.”

In addition to the public Web site, 45 MIT classes are already using internal OCW sites, at <http://ocw-int.mit.edu>, which require MIT certificates for access.

The internal sites will remain distinct from the external sites, Potts said, although posted information will overlap.

“They have to be distinct,” Lerman said. “Internal sites contain announcements that are specific to the current class, and also student work that can’t be released to the public” because, by default, MIT students retain the copyright on their schoolwork.

OCW has been funded by two $5.5 million grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and $1 million from within MIT.