MIT's "Open Knowledge Systems" Initiative

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has some of its course materials available online -- for free.

With an Internet connection and a Web browser, you can access MIT's pilot project: OpenCourseWare which includes the syllabus, lecture notes, exams (with answers), and videotaped lectures of 32 MIT courses.

When this information was posted many years ago (circa 2004), typical MIT undergraduates paid $26,960 per year for these same course materials.

This pilot project was part of a multiyear effort to create a unified approach to online access to the Institute's classes. The MIT faculty was interested in embracing a comparison to the open-source model used by software developers who publish, license and release their products free of charge. Although MIT was not offering course credits for degrees with a similarly free pricing scheme, students were getting an increasing amount of their MIT education in the privacy of their own dorm room, rather than attending live lectures.

Although at the time, there were still 1,968 courses remaining to be published, this effort for teaching and learning using the new framework called "open knowledge systems" was an important example of innovation for the future of higher education.

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