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MIT OpenCourseWare

What do you guys think about this site?
For me the only annoyance is the inconsistencies of material between course - for example: some are complete with pdf of the lectures, some are only links of recommended reading.
Otherwise I think it's great.
Maybe 2 years from now all great universities will do the same.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Yes, it is very inconsistent and in general you have to buy the textbooks to be able to learn something. However, if you buy the textbook, IMO you do not need the lecture notes, assignments and the other stuff there...

I see it as new channel to sell their textbooks :)

Petko Kafedjiski
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I am a great fan of the idea behind this, but the current implementation is still lacking in most places:

What should be there is all the materials for all of the classes:
- streaming/download video of the lectures
- the in class presentations
- lecture notes
- assignments and solutions
- full textbooks written by the staff

That would be true OpenCourseWare.

This will not apply to all countries, but if those classes are taught, those notes are prepared and those books authored on my tax money, should I not have the right to freely access the results now that technology allows this at a tiny extra marginal cost?

It saddens me no end to see some Euro governments still seem to prefer pouring tons of taxpayers money into sponsoring sports and game show broadcasts on national television, while leaving "education" broadcasting to a commercial sector that needs to "sensationalize" the materials (think National Geographic) to get the cheap eyeballs for the advertizing revenue.

It saddens me no end to see some smugg fully state financed, lifelong tenured Euro CS professors preach the "free software" philosophy to the gullable late teens while at the same time buttering their own paychecks by demanding that same class fork over extra dough for some superfluous rehash textbook they authored.

I applaud MIT for taking a step in the right direction. Now the state financed Euro uni scene needs to be hit with a giant cluebatt and kicked mightily in the behind along the same path.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"lifelong tenured Euro CS professors preach the "free software" philosophy to the gullable late teens" (sic), etc.

Boy, you really are smoking some crack.

I'm pretty sure that M.I.T. is owned by neither the U.S. Government nor the Massachusetts state government, so I don't see where all this "taxpayer" stuff comes from.

And I can't comment on Europe, but I can comment on an Atlantic Island just off the coast of Europe called "Great Britain".  Here, life long tenure has largely died out and the Universities accept tuition funding from the government for UK citizens, but right now are wondering whether this tuition is too costly for the monies they receive and whether they should go fully private.  (As they already are for foreign students).

David B. Wildgoose
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I wrote "This will not apply to all countries".
Maybe I should have repeated it a few times to make the message more clear. English is not my first languague.
I thought that the rest of the post was NOT refferring to MIT would be obvious.
I specifically target those unversities where the teaching side is (almost) completely funded by public money.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

It was obvious to some of us.

I don't think the phenomina is restricted to Europe though.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Isn't most european uni free, or very low cost, anyway?

A friend of mine is a doctor in germany and I recall that his medical education was under $800USD per year (contrasted with $14K - $20K per year at a public uni in the USA).

I was involved with the opencourseware project, and MIT would love to include streaming videos of some content, but the logistics involved (having a film crew in every class, editing and digitizing the video so the courses are up to date) are prohibitive. The cost of streaming is also prohibitive. And also, MIT would like there to still be some reason for high school students to want to go there.

As far as books go, many of the books in the courses are already available online (SICP, for instance). More books plan to go online. This is more of a matter of time and effort. It takes a while to get all this rolling.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I just had another look at this site, and particularly the Computer Science courses.  (I'm a self-taught programmer, so something like this could be quite helpful.)

For now, it looks like a rather half-baked implementation.  Of the courses I looked at, only one had a book online, and that book was published in a weird HTML format is not conducive to reading on screen, or to printing:

Also, none of the computer science courses that I looked at had actual lectures (video or audio) available online.  Reading "slides" of a lecture, without accompanying commentary from the lecturer, is not particularly helpful.

Sounds like a great premise, but not fully delivered.

Robert Jacobson
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The problem with that site is that the don't have streaming video, send my the textbooks for free, provide coffee to all web surfers, and offer a low cost atshome private tutoring service, preferable with hot babes wearing plaid skirts.

Like all the other universities that are doing so much more than MIT.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, October 23, 2003


I believe "good enough" automation of the filming-editing process for a typical class are within the possibilities of current technology.
Streaming (which need not be on demand) will take some cost, but would not nescessarily be a prohibitive excessive marginal burdon on the already gigantic appetite of a typical university Internet link.
The "keeping it close to the chest so as not to loose customers" is certainly valid for MIT, but should not apply in a public funded university education system.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I do agree - most materials are just course guidelines. But I find that the fact of publishing those materials online is great itself. Sure, in the near future we will have access to more complete information.

I'm not a great believer into the online education, just like "remote office" this won't work in most cases. You can't have a quality fun with your fellow-students sitting online, you still have to go to the uni to see all those babes in mini skirts.

Mm... What was I talking about? Oh.. yes, those materials are very often incomplete, but, well, is it  better to have at least something?

And sure, I hate life long students and professors who are spending our money not actually contributing to us. Those are usually people who tend to talk about "unemployment, huge problems within a society etc" just because they're afraid to go and "just try".

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The big win for video lectures is those remedial classes people should not really be wasting their money on at university.  No one wants to teach or allocate classes for them; a really good set of lectures could go a long way.

Those online SICP video lectures* didn't seem to hurt MIT one bit.  In the short term, they added prestige; in the long term, they educate people so profs can concentrate on more interesting subjects.

There will always be a need for universities.  The better educated people are, the more useful universities will be in mixing knowledge together.


Tayssir John Gabbour
Thursday, October 23, 2003

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