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M.I.T. to give education for free
April 4, 2001 7:31 AM   Subscribe

M.I.T. to give education for free M.I.T. plans on Wednesday to announce a 10-year initiative, apparently the biggest of its kind, that intends to create public Web sites for almost all of its 2,000 courses and to post materials like lecture notes, problem sets, syllabuses, exams, simulations, even video lectures.
NY Times
posted by Brilliantcrank (13 comments total)

 
Those bastards got over $50,000 of my and my parents money almost twenty years ago (when that was a lot of dough for an education). I want a refund. With interest, although I'm willing to give them an attractive rate, just to make it easier.
posted by anapestic at 7:36 AM on April 4, 2001


this is a fabulous idea! notice that they are not giving college credit for people that take advantage of it -- they're merely disseminating the info
posted by bliss322 at 7:39 AM on April 4, 2001


Wow. Very, very cool and impressive. It demonstrates that MIT certainly gets it, although most people might've been able to guess that.

I want to study advanced chemistry in the comfort of my easy chair!
posted by hijinx at 7:42 AM on April 4, 2001


A cheater's paradise!

Academic programs need to be very careful about releasing solutions to assignments online, particularly for courses like Computer Science/Engineering, Math, Physics, Chemistry, etc. Being a CS student myself, I know the unbridled frenzies that take place online when assignment due dates are approaching and nobody has solutions for questions 4, 5, and 7. A quick hop over to mit.edu might take the challenge out of doing assignments
posted by Succa at 8:33 AM on April 4, 2001


Now we can all take Psychology 101 from Steven Pinker and Linguistic Theory from Noam Chomsky!
posted by iceberg273 at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2001


anapestic:

You got the paper for your money. A degree from MIT, especially in today's job market, is worth a lot more than $50,000. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 8:56 AM on April 4, 2001


MIT's not giving away education, they're giving away information. Education occurs when people and information interact. Education doesn't come from researching and writing a paper, it comes from a professor (OK often a TA, but you get the idea) critically assessing your analysis of information. Education comes from six people in a study group discussing information. The materials are a fundamental part of the equation, but the true value (anapestic's $50,000 worth of value) comes from evaluating the information with other people.

Data exists, Knowledge happens.
posted by dchase at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2001


From MIT - News Release, Fact Sheet & Faculty Views.
posted by quirked at 9:58 AM on April 4, 2001


I agree that it sounds like a great idea - but there will certainly be a lot of problems to work out for the program to be successful. Taking a course at MIT, I'm sure, is a lot of work, and many people don't have the time or energy to devote to that kind of "learning for learning's sake". To organize it so that people can efficiently get the specific information they want from a wealth of videos and lectures is a difficult undertaking. The philosophy behind MIT's initiative sounds great, like the open-source software movement. But like the Internet stock bubble, I wonder if it will really be all that it seems to be.
posted by ktheory at 12:58 PM on April 4, 2001


...and many people don't have the time or energy to devote to that kind of "learning for learning's sake". To organize it so that people can efficiently get the specific information they want from a wealth of videos and lectures is a difficult undertaking.

Yes, it is, and for that level of assistance with this information you'll have to pay a fee, also called "tuition."
posted by jennyb at 1:16 PM on April 4, 2001


I think this may help people stay current in their field or refresh their knowledge after some time away, but I agree with dchase and others here who believe it takes much more than just the information.
posted by gimli at 3:27 PM on April 4, 2001


This is only slightly less drastic than Phil Greenspun's (a professor at MIT) proposal [caution: nudity?!] which I'm surprised has not been linked here yet. I'm assuming Phil was one of the faculty pushing for this change. I'm happy to see they were successful.

[ktheory] To organize it so that people can efficiently get the specific information they want from a wealth of videos and lectures is a difficult undertaking.

It is, and MIT has some of the greatest computer science and information theory professors and grad students in the world who can put their knowledge and research to work. Even if they fail at creating the Ultimate Knowledge Repository, there will be a lot learned in the process. This is a relatively new type of problem--putting vast amounts of knowledge on computers to be accessed simply, easily, and intuitively by humans--and we need all the practice we can get at solving it. This is a great sample base to start working on that problem. Even if MIT can't do it, maybe someone else can create a value-added front-end system that does a better job?

[ktheory] The philosophy behind MIT's initiative sounds great, like the open-source software movement. But like the Internet stock bubble, I wonder if it will really be all that it seems to be.

Who cares? Currently this information is not available at all. Are you suggesting we'll be worse off if it's out there online? It may not be perfect at first, or ever, but it's a start.

[gimli] I agree with dchase and others here who believe it takes much more than just the information.

Of course it does! MIT obviously agrees with you since they won't be giving credit for the use of these resources and they are still charging tuition to students on campus. That doesn't mean this won't be a totally invaluable resource to the world. MIT is one of the greatest universities in the country, maybe in the world. Every step they take to make knowledge more open, more available to everyone, is a great step. Thank you MIT!
posted by daveadams at 10:32 PM on April 4, 2001


Whoops, re-reading my comments, I sound a bit gruff. Sorry if I sounded accusatory, ktheory or gimli, I was just a bit excited about this development and I personally can't see anything bad about it. No offense, I hope.
posted by daveadams at 10:34 PM on April 4, 2001


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