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MIT OpenCourseWare launches NextGen platform

New site offers mobile-responsive, search-optimized experience to a growing global audience of learners.
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Mobile phone and laptop displaying MIT OpenCourseWare's "NextGen" website
A new update to the MIT OpenCourseWare website serves not only current learners, but also presents a purposeful approach to finding and engaging with future learners.
Image courtesy of MIT Open Learning.

After serving millions of learners around the world for the last 20 years, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) has launched its next-generation platform to allow for flexible growth, experimentation, and evolution in open learning. MIT’s “NextGen OCW” offers a new and improved experience for learners, more support for educators, additional opportunities for open education collaboration, and a greater capacity to share even more robust MIT content in the years to come.

Now optimized for use on mobile devices, OCW opens new learning opportunities for the growing global population that relies on phones for internet access. Smartphone use is growing at a rate of 7 percent per year, with 92.6 percent of internet users browsing on mobile devices at least some of the time. Not only does this update serve current learners, it also presents a purposeful approach to finding and engaging with future learners. Mobile use of OCW presents an opportunity to build greater equity for learners from under-resourced areas in the United States and throughout the Global South.

“We are delighted to offer this free access to knowledge in new ways, and we hope to reach an ever-growing global learner community that is hungry to take on the world’s most pressing challenges,” says Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning at MIT. “The next generation of OCW addresses the current global moment and is at the same time a reflection of MIT’s lasting commitment to openly sharing knowledge and pedagogy.”

A streamlined content discovery experience, centered on an improved search function, opens new pathways into OCW’s extensive course collection and ensures that users can discover the materials that best meet their needs. The scope and quality of content on OCW will continue to grow: a much-improved technology suite and streamlined content production methods will enable MIT faculty to update their OCW material much more smoothly, efficiently, and frequently, and more content created by MIT students will highlight their inspiring voices and agency in the learning process.

To date, OCW has been a resource for over 300 million unique users, with more than 1.6 million website visits and 5 million video views each month. OCW currently offers materials from over 2,570 courses spanning the MIT graduate and undergraduate curriculum, from 1,735 MIT faculty and lecturers​ from 33 academic units across all five schools, including syllabi, lecture notes, problem sets, assignments, audiovisual content including recorded lectures, and insights for millions of educators around the world who use these materials.

From its inception in 2001, OCW has helped usher in the growing open education movement. Then-MIT president Charles Vest called OpenCourseWare “consistent with what I believe is the best about MIT ... It expresses our belief in the way education can be advanced — by constantly widening access to information and by inspiring others to participate." In recent years, that inspiration to participate has grown into a global movement for improving educational equity and inclusion. Around the world, more educators and learners are adapting and remixing open educational resources like OCW, creating culturally relevant learning experiences tuned to the needs of their communities.

“As OpenCourseWare begins its third decade, we are thrilled to see MIT Open Learning and the OCW team launch this next-generation platform, manifesting a revitalized commitment by faculty and instructors across the Institute to sharing the most current and vibrant reflection of MIT teaching and learning with the world,” says Professor Krishna Rajagopal, chair of the OCW Faculty Advisory Committee. “It is both humbling and motivating to see materials that first saw the light of day in our classrooms helping millions of teachers and opening learning for untold millions more learners.”

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