MIT OpenCourseWare is an offering of free college-level engineering-related course materials to the public.
While many courses are provided, they vary widely in popularity and usefulness. The site lists a ranking of its most popular courses, which tend to be the ones providing solutions to the problems. As of January 31, 2010, only one of the top 20 courses was taught after 2008, which suggests a decline in the posting and use of material.
Some of the "courses", such as "8.962 General Relativity" as taught in Spring 2006, consist merely of a set of textbooks and problem sets without solutions, and no lectures. Even when MIT claims to post lectures for a course, as in the Economics course cited below, they are often merely rudimentary notes lacking in substantive explanations.
The courses do suffer from some liberal bias. For example, its course on Microeconomics does not mention the important, Nobel-Prize-winning Coase Theorem anywhere in its syllabus, and only mentions it in a narrow, understated manner in a lecture having the title "market failure" (a term never mentioned in the lecture).
In sharp contrast with Conservapedia's welcoming copyright policy, MIT's copyright restrictions prevent many possible uses of its work. Specifically, MIT prohibits charging any fees in connection with reuse of its work, which makes it impossible to use the materials in any setting other than a public school (where, of course, taxpayers are paying the fees). Moreover, MIT requires attribution of the work without an connotation of endorsement, which requires a complex disclaimer.
MIT states that incurs an astounding cost for posting simple course material:
- Each course we publish requires an investment of $10,000 to $15,000 to compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution.
If there is video, the cost is twice as much, according to MIT.