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Many universities see the Internet as a way to deliver
revenue-generating distance education. But Lerman said making course
information freely available would "build on the tradition at MIT
and in American higher education of open dissemination of
educational materials and innovations in teaching."
MIT students pay about $26,000 a year in tuition. No credit will
be offered for online course materials.
MIT said in a news release Wednesday that the Web site MIT
OpenCourseWare would include lecture notes, course outlines, reading
lists and assignments for each course. MIT did not say how much the
program would cost, but The New York Times reported it
would cost $100 million.
Over the next decade, the project expects to provide materials
for over 2,000 courses across MIT's entire curriculum, including
engineering, arts, humanities, science and social sciences.
"With the content posted for all to use, it will provide an
extraordinary resource, free of charge, which others can adapt to
their own needs," MIT President Charles M. Vest said in a statement.
"We see it as source material that will support education worldwide,
including innovations in the process of teaching and learning
Vest said the idea is particularly appropriate for a research
university such as MIT, where ideas move quickly from the laboratory
to the curriculum, even before they are published in textbooks.
The project could also help developing countries improve their
higher education systems, MIT said.
The school said the project will begin as a pilot program over
the next two years, starting with the design of the software and
services needed to support the project. It is expected that more
than 500 courses will be available by the end of the two-year
The concept of MIT OpenCourseWare came from a study group of MIT
faculty and staff chartered by MIT's Council on Educational
Technology. Consultants from Booz-Allen & Hamilton are helping
with organizational aspects of the project.
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