OpenCourseWare, A Guest Thankfulness Post

Today's guest post was written by yet another of my remarkable alumni students. I am really the luckiest teacher in the world to get to continue sharing in the adventures of these terrific young people. Jenny Yao, is studying biological engineering and rowing crew at MIT this year. She writes about how OpenCourseWare supports this ambitious schedule.

Rowing Crew at MIT

I want to tell a story about something I’m thankful for, in accordance with the yearly Thankfulness Series, hosted by the wonderful Mrs Weaver. I’m happy to say that I have a lot of things I’m thankful for right now, but in particular, I am thankful for OCW, or OpenCourseWare. OCW is (very accurately) self-described as “a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.”

But seriously… OCW is probably the most helpful learning resource at MIT (apart from the actual professors, of course). Ever missed a lecture? Perhaps you were sick, or your alarm didn’t go off, or you had morning practice for crew and  decided that right now, a nap was more important than your math class. Or you actually went to lecture, but it didn’t make a lot of sense, and you’d like to have the material explained a different way. Your lecture is probably on OCW in handy-dandy video format, along with a transcript if you’re more of a learn-by-reading kind of person. “But wait,” you might say. “I hate video lectures! The lecturer always talks too slow/fast!” Good thing OCW lets you play lectures at up to 2x faster, or 4x slower, so you can absorb the information at your own pace.

Basically, almost every single class you can take at MIT is also available on OCW; video lectures, problem sets, quizzes, exams, and supplementary worksheets and materials, all in one centralized web page! I don’t even have an adjective of the proper magnitude to describe how beneficial it’s been.

More importantly, however, it’s a huge step forward into making education a reality for anyone who wants to learn. Learning shouldn’t be restricted to only those who can pay for it, and by making these classes available for free, MIT is increasing the availability and the quality of education for everyone and making the world a smarter place!


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This post is part of our 2013 Thankfulness Series. If you are interested in contributing,  please email me at kathrynfweaver@gmail.com.

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