Open Courseware

The idea of MIT's OpenCourseWare was simple, but revolutionary: Publish all of their course materials online and make them widely available to everyone. MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content and is available to the world. It is a permanent MIT activity.

They are not "courses" or MOOCs in that there is no teacher and no interaction between students who might use the materials. It is a repository of open educational resources from individual courses.

Through OCW, educators can improve their own courses and curricula. Students can find additional resources to help them succeed. Independent learners enrich their lives and use the content to learn on their own a subject like math or writing, but also go through courses on difficult world challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and cancer eradication.

When I first knew I would be teaching technical writing at NJIT, I went to the MIT OpenCourseWare site and looked at what they offered. For example, Science Writing and New Media was one of their offerings that I was able to go through. Although, like most users of OCW, I did not use the course as it was offered, I did find readings and project ideas and was able to get an overview of how one person approaches the subject.

At NJIT, we started our own open courseware project based on and with help from the people at MIT. At, you can find a variety of course materials. For example, there are 39 short video "lectures" by Professor Lipuma for his Technical Writing classes.

Open courseware repositories at other colleges include:

There are many schools and institutions offering courseware via Apple's iTunes U (audio & video podcasts of lectures and also documents for the course) see



Some other big sites organizing open courseware offerings are the and

The Sofia (Sharing of Free Intellectual Assets) project is an open content initiative launched by the Foothill - De Anza Community College District in California with funding support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Under the leadership of Foothill College, Sofia promotes faculty and institutional sharing of online content.

Modeled after MIT's OpenCourseWare Initiative, Sofia encourages the free exchange of community college-level materials on the World Wide Web.

Sofia was launched with a pilot in March of 2004 and its long-term vision is to broaden participation in the Sofia project, promoting openness, sharing, and collaboration globally. For more information on the Sofia open content initiative, refer to their FAQ.

A course example is the one offered for the sample textbook I mentioned earlier - Collaborative Statistics by Barbara Illowsky. The online course site allows you see how the author uses the textbook in her own classes. You can access the syllabus, assignments, exams etc.