MIT OCW – Year-End Numbers and a Year-Start Celebration

MIT FAST festival: Light Drift - an interactive lighting installation that will appear along the Memorial Drive side of the Charles River and draw viewers into a playful engagement with the artwork, the river’s edge, and each other.

“A revolutionary idea about creating revolutionary ideas,” as president Susan Hockfield describes the MIT project, will now mark its 150th anniversary. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers its teaching materials used in undergraduate and graduate courses available on the web, free of charge, since 2001. MIT is thus a young pioneer, although with such a “gray beard”, in accepting one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century – open education.

Open Course Ware Charts

In less than 10 years, MIT has managed to link to more than 2,000 course materials freely available on their OpenCourseWare webpage and thus reached another milestone. A fast gainer, the website counted 15 million visits in 2009, only to reach the dashing number of 17,5 million visits in the year 2010 and to prove again as a “fully-grown” and important Open Educational Resource (OER). The number of visitors climbed (as shown in my graph below) from 9, 1 million to 9,6 million users. The number of page views (the yellow bar) seems a bit lower, 98,3 million as opposed to the last year’s incredible 100 million views, but the number should improve due to the newly planned design for the future. The number of visits from MIT community has dropped from 1 million count to 275,000 but the number of visits from Open Study website that students mostly use to share MIT material, should be included in the stats. Selected as one of the 50 best websites for the last year by the Time magazine and the last year’s recipient of the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education, the website is finally critically acclaimed as an exceptional educational resource.


Playful Engagement

MIT 150 Exhibition - In 1959, the National Inventors Council offered a $5,000 prize for the design of a wheelchair that could climb stairs. Ernesto Blanco submitted his design in 1962; when no prize was awarded, he built this model to prove the concept.

From January, 7 to June, 5, the Institute is celebrating its 150 years old history in grand style. The celebration will honor the past achievements “while examining the grand scientific challenges of the 21st century, and will look ahead to what the future holds for cancer research, computation, neuroscience, air and space travel, and other key areas of MIT research,” it is stated in their press release. As one of the key events, an exhibition is unveiled at the MIT Museum and it tells 150 stories about MIT, including those of student pranks, recordings from an impromptu Grateful Dead concert held on campus in 1970, the virus-built battery developed by Angela Belcher, and the world’s first pocket-sized scientific calculator. “The themes include the role that Boston has served as a living laboratory for MIT; the manner in which MIT has used numbers — analog and digital — to move the world to the computer age; and the entrepreneurial spirit that has spurred the more than 25,000 companies founded by MIT alumni, faculty, students and staff,” says Deborah G. Douglas, the museum’s curator of science and technology. The exhibition is scheduled to conclude on December, 31, 2011, but it will be preserved as an online archive developed from the MIT 150 Exhibition website that was launched today.

In addition, six MIT symposia on key areas of MIT research will be held throughout the celebration, and a Festival of Art, Science and Technology, FAST, is organized on the campus area and it should celebrate MIT’s unique confluence of Art, Science, and Technology. Furthermore, many student gatherings will be organized and the public will gain the opportunity to wander through MIT labs, centers and educational facilities. Full instructions on how to honor the MIT’s 150-year-old inventional wisdom are available on the MIT+150 Website.

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