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OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a term describing high quality university-level course materials in a virtual learning environment that are created and freely distributed around the world through the internet; available for use and adaptation under an open Creative Commons license.

So if you want to learn something new form the best in the field but don’t have the time to take classes or money for the rising tuition costs, OpenCourseWare might just be the answer.

OCW operates with a specific vision; it wants to see the world in which the desire to learn is fully met by the opportunity to do so anywhere in the world – “where everyone, everywhere is able to access affordable, educationally and culturally appropriate opportunities to gain whatever knowledge or training they desire.”

This vision, however, can be only realized if access to high-quality educational materials and the partnership with organizations addressing related problems grows; which by the look of it – it does.

Although published videos of lectures were made available online as far as 1999 by University of Tubingen in Germany, the OCW movement truly took off only in 2002, with a launch of MIT OpenCourseWare. Since than hundreds of Universities joined the movement and together made available nearly 4,200 courses in 8 languages (Catalan, traditional Chinese, English, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish); the number which is constantly on the rise. And with its easy to use interface searching for a course either by language, higher-education institution, or a website will take only couple of seconds.

The undergraduate and graduate level course materials often include a syllabus, calendar of lectures to stay on track, list of readings and discussion topics, class notes, assignments, solutions and in many cases multimedia content such as video or voice recordings from lectures; all packed in one easy download.

Courses themselves include everything from Aircraft Systems Engineering, Advanced Physics, Languages, Marketing, Media, Architecture, Real Estate, Economics, Photography, Literature, Art, and Biomolecular Kinetics, etc. What is more important they come from some of the most prestigious and known institutions around the world including MIT, Tufts Univesrity, University of Michigan, University of California, Arizona State University, Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Northeastern State University, UC Berkeley, University of Notre Dame, University of Nottingham, Universite de Lyon, Universidad Politecnica Madrid, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, University of Tokyo, Universidad de Chile, just to name a few.

OSW is an amazing resource for anyone with a computer, internet connection, and a desire to learn.

Related Links:
OCW Official Website
OCW from MIT

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.