+ MIT Gives Free Course Materials to K-12 Teachers & Students

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Adapted from an article in Education Week magazine by Sean Cavanagh

Famed research university Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge Massachusetts, offers students and teachers free video, audio and print lectures and course material taken straight from their classrooms.

One program is called “Highlights for High School.”  All are an extension of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative.  The Open Course Ware initiative was launched in 2001 with the goal of providing free public access to all the university’s courses and curricula via the Internet.

A high school biology teacher, Rebekka Stone, says “It empowers students to think beyond this classroom.  A lot of students have no idea what a college is like.  They have no idea what a college lecture is like… It takes away some of the fear.”

Jesse Southwick, a teacher at the Boston Latin School, has taught AP physics for five years.  He believes the biggest beneficiaries of the site will be new teachers, or those returning to a topic they haven’t studied since college.

“If I was new at this, I’d watch all those lectures beforehand.  You’d watch a lecture to know that you were not way off base, way off track.”

The MIT high school site  is at http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/hs/home/home/index.htm.  

The comprehensive MIT Open Course Ware site is located at http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/courses/courses/index.htm.   It now houses material from 1800 courses in subjects such as architecture, physical education, history, literature, political science — in addition to math and science.

The course sites are unusual both in terms of the sheer volume of information available and  specific organization for K-12 audiences.  The high school site includes more than 2600 video and audio clips from faculty lectures, as well as assignments and lecture notes. 

Some of that material is assembled on the site for specific high school classes, such as Advanced Placement biology, calculus, and physics, which are college preparatory courses.

The portal also allows teachers to search by topic for faculty lectures and assignments and use them as they see fit.

Ms. Stone sometimes plays online MIT video clips on her classroom’s overhead projector, or has students take turns watching them on individual computers.  For some teenagers, she adds, seeing or hearing an explanation of a concept is easier than reading it in a texbook — and much more entertaining.

source: article by Sean Cavanagh in Education Week Magazine on 2/6/08. www.edweek.org

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