MIT Open Learning
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MIT Open Learning

5 Reasons to Support the Next Generation of MIT OpenCourseWare

A woman wearing a mask stands at a blackboard explaining a mathemetical concept to two masked, male students
Image via OpenCourseWare

Earlier this year, OpenCourseWare released its next generation (“NextGen”) platform to the world. This is the most foundational upgrade to OCW in its history, positioning OCW to serve learners and educators in powerful new ways for decades to come. With a new design and functionality, the NextGen OCW website now provides better support for learners with smartphones, users with limited bandwidth, and educators looking to adapt resources from OCW into their own teaching.

Developing and launching this new site has been a significant undertaking, but is just the beginning of our vision for what the next generation OCW program entails. It was only possible to realize this platform because of the support of our global community of learners, MIT alumni, foundations, and more who share our vision for a stronger and more equitable network of open educational resources (OERs). That support will be more important than ever to us now that NextGen OCW is a reality.

Here are 5 ways your support can help MIT OpenCourseWare accelerate and deliver on our knowledge-sharing mission with the new OCW platform and programs:

1. Expanding the collection of free resources from MIT

What and how MIT faculty teach, (and the internet itself!), have changed dramatically in the past twenty years. With our new suite of rapid publishing tools, the team is able to adapt and share an MIT course or faculty resource to the OCW site in a fraction of the time it used to take. This has huge implications for getting the latest from MIT classrooms into the hands of learners and educators worldwide as quickly as possible.

OCW will remain a more dynamic and diverse reflection of MIT’s curriculum, rich with in-demand topics like Introduction to Algorithms, uniquely MIT resources like the Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing, and gems from the humanities like Moral Problems and the Good Life. With this more streamlined publication process, our goal in the coming years is to further expand and curate OCW offerings in several priority subject areas with deep relevance to today’s world: sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the future of computing and machine learning.

“Lifelong learning is not only a must in our times. It is also a great gift. Not everyone has the means to afford lifelong learning. MIT OCW allows for a broad range of people in this world to come closer to the aim of lifelong learning. It is an honor to be able to support this with a little donation.” — Jens, OCW Donor, Switzerland

2. Making continued enhancements to the OCW platform

The new site isn’t meant to be a one-time upgrade, rather it was designed with future enhancements of the platform and resources in mind. We’re exploring new ways for users to find learning pathways through the collection, more ways to reach and support learners who lack reliable internet service, and better ways for educators to create adaptations of OCW material and share back with the world.

“I first came across OCW through YouTube videos of 6.001 and I got hooked. Having excellent professors right in your palm gave me a rush for learning, learning new things, things that I always wanted to learn but never had the resources to. A couple months later I started 8.04-Quantum Physics-I, and the lectures were as eloquent as they were exciting…In the past few months OCW has completely transformed my daily life. It has completely eliminated the countless hours I would have burnt scrolling through YouTube. OCW has introduced me to an online education community that is far wider and deeper than I expected.”— Anish, High School Student, India

3. Producing and sharing more course videos

OCW course videos are a resounding favorite and the most requested resource among current OCW learners. With the help of the OCW YouTube channel, they are also a powerful gateway to learning for new and returning users alike, bringing in countless learners who may not have otherwise encountered OCW. It was just three years ago that we celebrated surpassing 2 million subscribers to our YouTube channel. Today that number has nearly doubled to 3.89 million subscribers, and this past fall a single lecture video, Introduction to the Human Brain, racked up over 10 million views in a matter of weeks.

Learners everywhere are hungry to know more, and increasingly seeking out free and reliable video resources to help them understand a given topic. Recording, editing, and captioning hours of video for each course we publish requires significant resources, and your support will help us grow our video library under NextGen.

“Saying MIT OCW immediately lends an air of credibility to the whole concept of open education. For students in community colleges to be able to access and benefit from these high quality learning materials fosters an incredible potential and a concrete benefit in their learning. It boosts their self-confidence, self-esteem, and their thinking that they can master these materials. And of course, many of our students simply can’t afford commercial textbooks, and I hear from many students that they’ve relied on OERs — including from MIT OCW — to succeed in their classes.”— James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean, Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning at College of the Canyons

4. Open education will help us weather future & ongoing disruptions

As evidenced by the astronomical growth of followers on our YouTube channel since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are so many people seeking out free and reliable online learning resources. The flexibility afforded by open educational resources (OERs) to learn at your own pace makes it an essential tool for resilient learning through unforeseen disruptions like the global pandemic.

We also routinely hear from learners about how OCW has helped them continue to learn during periods of personal disruption, be it a medical emergency, financial constraint, or local or regional conflict that has impacted their education. With the likelihood of more disruptions, displacement, and migration in the years to come, investing in OER like OCW will be important for maintaining individual agency in learning regardless of one’s circumstances and ensuring the right to education for anyone who wants to learn.

“There are people out there in the world-building open educational resources of their own and we should and will collaborate with them, so that what people will find in the future is a network-a linked set of open education resources. You might start with materials produced elsewhere and be led into OpenCourseWare; if you come to OCW you might find pointers to material from elsewhere which will serve to help prepare you and bring you in. We need to build those crosslinks, and that means we need to collaborate with others out there, and that’s the OCW perspective on educational equity looking ahead to its third decade.” — Krishna Rajagopal, OCW Faculty Advisory Committee Chair

5. Contributing to a more collaborative and inclusive OER landscape

After 21 years, we believe more than ever in the power of open sharing. As an historic OER leader, OCW has a role to play in supporting others in creating and sharing more inclusive, culturally relevant OER-something we aim to do more intentionally with the NextGen platform. If opening access to knowledge was the story of OCW’s first twenty years, working towards greater educational equity is the goal of the next twenty years.

That’s why we are committed to building a more dynamic and integrated OER ecosystem, through efforts like convening the Open 2030 Working Group, and collaborating more directly with fellow educators and OER leaders, such as a cultural collections program with some Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and MERLOT, to better serve learners and educators everywhere.

Your support will help us do what we’ve been doing for over two decades-share knowledge from MIT-while embracing the newly unleashed potential of our new platform to reach millions more learners, and be a more activated OER colleague. If you’re able, we hope you will donate to support our knowledge-sharing mission to the world.

Explore our giving FAQs to learn more about why OCW needs your support and other ways to contribute.

Originally published at https://www.ocw-openmatters.org on June 16, 2022.

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News, ideas, and thought leadership on the future of learning. Discover more at openlearning.mit.edu.

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