Free college courses ranging in content from English literature to quantum physics are now available on-line through a consortium started by MIT several years ago known as The Open Courseware Consortium. NJIT has recently been named a member of what has become a worldwide organization. Come next semester, 35 NJIT courses will be available through the Consortium. NJIT is the only institution of higher learning throughout New Jersey and New York to have achieved this distinction.
To celebrate, NJIT will sponsor on Feb. 25, 2010 an afternoon devoted to the importance of the Consortium and open courseware as well as open software. The keynote speaker will be Stephen Carson of MIT, president of the Consortium and external relations director of MIT Open Courseware. Carson will speak at 1:30 p.m. in the Guttenberg Information Technologies Center, room 3730. The public is invited to attend. Other lectures will take place throughout the day geared more towards helping NJIT professors and students make better use of open software for academics.
“It wasn’t too long ago that people paid a sizable sum of money to buy CDs of the best lectures of top university professors,” said Gale Spak, associate vice president of Continuing Professional Education at NJIT. “Now thanks to this Consortium, this information is free. There is no reason for anyone anymore not to have undergraduate and graduate-level material at their fingertips. Self-learners and busy professionals in need of just-in-time knowledge are big users of this source.
Participating institutions in the Consortium range from the Mathematical Institute at Oxford University, England, to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A typical university offering might be an entry-level class in chemistry, biology or geology. Some material is available in audio, some even in video.
The Consortium is a free and open digital publication of high-quality educational materials, organized as courses. Some courses can be viewed in video, while others are only in audio. More than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world now participate. To participate in Consortium activities, institutions must have committed to publishing, under the institution's name, materials from at least 10 courses in a format that meets the agreed-upon definition of open courseware. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewitt Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have provided support for this project.