Democratizing Education: MIT's Open Course Revolution Turns 10

Ten years in, it's easy to take for granted just how significant the free sharing of educational material really is.

Ten years ago this month the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made the radical decision to post almost all the educational materials used in its classes on the web, and they made them free to anyone with an internet connection. Since then, MIT OpenCourseWare has shared more than 2,000 courses with an estimated 100 million people around the globe. More importantly, they've made a profound impact on the democratization of education.

It's easy to forget that MIT's move is what really sparked the whole global Open Educational Resources Movement. In the decade since, we've become used to elite universities sharing their courses through dedicated sites, iTunes podcasts, and YouTube videos. There's also the role the OCW movement has surely played in inspiring visionaries. Would Sal Khan, the founder of the online Khan Academy, the virtual school that's on a mission to provide an excellent education to anyone, anywhere, for free, have come up with the idea if MIT hadn't trailblazed years earlier? KQED's MindShift blog also has a great list of other ways OCW's positively impacted education—everything from "reinforcing the college experience" to "empowering educators."

What's nice is that MIT isn't resting on it's laurels. Their OpenCourseWare goals for the next decade are pretty ambitious. The school hopes to reach one billion people by 2021, "so that motivated people everywhere can improve their lives and change the world."

photo via Wikimedia Commons

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