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MIT to Offer All Courses Online
Associated Press

6:00 a.m. Apr. 4, 2001 PDT
   

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available over the Internet in the next 10 years.

The plan is meant to counter concerns about the "privatization of knowledge," faculty chairman Steven Lerman said.


    
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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 itself."

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 period.

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.

Copyright © 2001 Associated Press


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