Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.
American universities may be among the best in the world, and they are certainly among the most expensive. This week's featured website offers much of the material given to students taking courses at one of our most prestigious centers of higher learning, and you don't have to pay for it at all.
CARSON: "MIT OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication of the course materials from virtually all of MIT's courses. So this includes the sorts of things you would expect to be handed if you were a student sitting in class: the lecture notes, the syllabus, the exams, the quizzes, the homework assignments, and so forth."
Steve Carson is a spokesman for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare program at ocw.mit.edu.
OpenCourseWare is not the same as taking a class at MIT. It doesn't include textbooks, and you can't ask questions. But there's still plenty of value in the material related to some 1,800 courses in science and engineering, as well as business, music and literature, and special courses for high school students.
CARSON: "It's not the same thing as distance learning. It wasn't expected, initially, even to be a tool for distance learning. It was really imagined that these materials would be helpful for other faculty members around the world in creating course materials for their own classrooms."
"Around the world" is right. More than half the users of MIT OpenCourseWare are from outside North America, and many of them take advantage of the translated course material.
CARSON: "Almost as soon as we put the materials up, we were contacted by a number of other organizations who were interested in bringing their own resources to bear on translating the materials into other languages. So we now have about 600 translations of our courses out there in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, and we have some Farsi translations that are just coming on board."
About half of the OpenCourseWare users are individuals — independent learners, Carson calls them — who study on their own, using the same course materials as students at an internationally renown university, but without paying steep tuition charges.
In fact, everything at MIT OpenCourseWare is free for the downloading. And if you don't find what you like at MIT, there is a link to an international consortium of universities in some 20 other countries offering similar material.
Free educational materials from MIT OpenCourseWare at ocw.mit.edu, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.