Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » MIT: Unlocking knowledge, opening minds

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » MIT: Unlocking knowledge, opening minds

As Deb Perelman’s blog summarized nicely, MIT just go a whole lot less exclusive: the core teaching materials, including syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and exams from MIT’s 1,800 courses, are now online and free to the public. The reason MIT is doing so (which we’ve obviously talked about before, but is worth repeating again) is simply that MIT is committed to advancing education and discovery through knowledge open to everyone - a goal we should all be able to get behind. It is really worth having a look around the MIT site - or better, yet, download a course.

However, there is at least one issue that remains to be dealt with - while the courses are open, accessible and “free”, many of the readings the courses are built on aren’t. For example, if you are interested in the technology strategy course, you will find this reading list - mostly articles that you’ll have to find and pay for through some journal archive service, and some books that you can buy through Amazon. Many other courses have a very long list of expensive, required texts. In turn, while anyone can now sign up for the courses and perhaps study the lecture notes and some of the reading material, many prospective students (particularly those in developing nations) will find the core parts of the course are still out of their reach.

Of course, there is a benefit tied to the books as well - the partnership with Amazon allows for 10% of the sales price from books bought through the site to go towards MIT, in order to support the open access resource. Moreover, the opening up of university courses is just a start - they have a similar site operating now for high school students and teachers, many courses are being translated, in addition to a variety of other exciting elements of this amazing initiative.

MIT is moving in a great direction for many, many different reasons - and with other communities like Curriki doing similar things, access to cutting edge educational material and support might just move from being a privilege to a right. Any way you slice it, that would be a great outcome for everyone.

No comments: