Explore the New MIT Open Learning Library

Now even more opportunities to learn from MIT at your own pace.

Screenshot of Open Learning Library webpage.

MIT Open Learning Library (OLL) is a new home to selected educational content from MIT OpenCourseWare and MITx on edX courses, available for free to anyone in the world at any time. We’re glad to share this prototype, combining some of the most important characteristics of the OCW and MITx experiences.

Interactive Assessments and Progress Tracking

One advantage to using the MIT Open Learning Library is that, by creating a free account, you will be able to keep track of your progress as you work your way through a course and to see the answers you’ve submitted to problems within the course – just as you can with MITx on edX courses. However, Open Learning Library does not include discussion forums, certificates, or the ability to transfer your progress to MITx on edX. 

How OLL Compares to OCW and MITx

You can think of OCW, MITx, and OLL along a spectrum of learning scenarios, in which MIT content is presented in different formats to meet different user needs. 

  • MITx courses on edX are end-to-end course experiences with optional certificates available for you to earn, live teaching support and interaction with other learners in discussion forums, and start and end dates.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare offers a completely self-guided experience with published content from MIT courses that is open all of the time and licensed for download, remix, and reuse, but does not offer certificates nor interaction with teachers and learners. 
  • MIT Open Learning Library sits in between MITx on edX and OCW. As in many MITx courses, OLL provides interactive course experiences that include auto-graded assessments that give you instant feedback and allow you to track your progress as you work your way through the subject matter. Like OCW, this content is always open and self-guided and includes no live support, discussion forum, or certificates.

Open Learning Library resources designated as OCW content are free to download, remix, and reuse for non-commercial purposes.  Resources designated as MITx content have varying licenses: some are All Rights Reserved, others Creative Commons, and some have mixed licenses. You will see the license type indicated on the About Pages.

Take a Closer Look

6.042J Mathematics for Computer Science is an example of an OCW course on OLL. As taught at MIT, Professor Albert Meyer used MIT’s residential version of the edX platform to deliver short videos interspersed with interactive concept questions that checked and effectively reinforced student learning — in other words, a structure very similar to MITx courses. This structure was reflected in the the openly licensed OCW version of this course, although OCW’s current platform is not able to track a learner’s progress through the course. Now with the new OLL version of the course, learners have a “best of both worlds” experience where the platform keeps track of their progress, while preserving OCW’s always-available openness.  

This version of Open Learning Library is an evolving prototype. Watch for new content, new site features, and an enhanced user experience. We welcome your feedback on the site, including your thoughts on areas for improvement.

A wealth of OCW content from Nobel Prize-winning MIT economists Duflo and Banerjee

MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. (Photo by Bryce Vickmark.)

The Nobel Prize in Economics just awarded to MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee (along with Harvard colleague Michael Kremer) recognizes the transformational results of their antipoverty research and relief efforts. Their work exemplifies the power of creative and practical new approaches to the world’s biggest problems, backed with experimental rigor and analytical insight—all qualities found in much MIT research and the MIT education.

As MIT News wrote:

The work of Duflo and Banerjee, which has long been intertwined with Kremer’s, has been highly innovative in the area of development economics, emphasizing the use of field experiments in research in order to realize the benefits of laboratory-style randomized, controlled trials. Duflo and Banerjee have applied this new precision while studying a wide range of topics implicated in global poverty, including health care, education, agriculture, and gender issues, while developing new antipoverty programs based on their research.

Duflo and Banerjee also co-founded MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)  in 2003, along with a third co-founder, Sendhil Mullainathan, now of the University of Chicago. J-PAL, a global network of antipoverty researchers that conducts field experiments, has now become a major center of research, facilitating work across the world.

J-PAL also examines which kinds of local interventions have the greatest impact on social problems, and works to implement those programs more broadly, in cooperation with governments and NGOs. Among J-PAL’s notable interventions are deworming programs that have been adopted widely…

Duflo, 46, is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel in economic sciences.

“We’re fortunate to see this kind of work being recognized,” Duflo told MIT News, noting that their work was “born at MIT and supported by MIT.” She called the work in this area a “collective effort” and said that “we could not have created a movement without hundreds of researchers and staff members.” The Nobel award, she said, also represented this collective enterprise, and was “larger than our work.”

MIT OpenCourseWare is proud to share with you these courses and resources by Professors Duflo and Banerjee.

  • 14.73 The Challenge of World Poverty
    This undergraduate course, featuring complete video lectures, is for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty, and are hopeful that economists might have something useful to say about this challenge. The questions we will take up include: Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Why do some countries grow fast and others fall further behind? Does growth help the poor?…
  • 14.771 Development Economics: Microeconomic Issues and Policy Models
    This graduate course, featuring complete lecture notes and taught with co-instructor Benjamin Olken, covers the productivity effects of health, private and social returns to education, education quality, education policy and market equilibrium, gender discrimination, public finance, decision making within families, firms and contracts, technology, labor and migration, land, and the markets for credit and savings.
  • Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Executive Training: Evaluating Social Programs 2009
    This five-day program, led with co-instructor Rachel Glennerster, provides a thorough understanding of randomized evaluations and pragmatic step-by-step training for conducting one’s own evaluation. The OCW site features complete lecture videos (including one lecture by Nobel Prize co-winner Michael Kremer) and a set of case studies.
  • Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Executive Training: Evaluating Social Programs 2011
    A complementary version of the J-PAL five-day program, with other case studies and exercises.

OCW also has two other courses by Professor Duflo:

  • 14.74 Foundations of Policy Development
    This undergraduate course explores the foundations of policy making in developing countries. The goal is to spell out various policy options and to quantify the trade-offs between them. We will study the different facets of human development: education, health, gender, the family, land relations, risk, informal and formal norms and institutions…
  • 14.11 Putting Social Sciences to the Test: Field Experiments in Economics
    This undergraduate course, co-taught with Prof. David Autor, is about field (that is, ‘in situ’) and laboratory experiments in the social sciences – both what these experiments have taught and can teach us and how to conduct them.

And if all this great content on OCW leaves you wanting even more, there’s the MITx MicroMasters Program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy, specifically focused on the methodologies and teaching of Professors Duflo and Banerjee.

Why This MIT Professor Wants to Help Everyone Learn Basic Economics

Simple line drawing of two neighboring houses, people out front of each house looking at the other one and saying "Wierd".

Image from a video in Introductory AP® Microeconomics, using the challenges negotiating with a noisy party next door to illustrate the concept of market failure.

Professor Jon Gruber’s 14.01SC Principles of Microeconomics is OCW’s most popular economics course, with legions of appreciative fans. 

Professor Gruber wants the world to understand that economics is not only useful, it’s also “beautiful and surprising and cool.” He’s invested in spreading the economics gospel to a wider audience, such as his 2011 graphic-novel treatment of health care reform [still a timely work, it seems!].

So we wanted to spread the word about Professor Gruber’s new online course with MITx on edX. Introductory AP® Microeconomics opens on August 15, 2017 for self-paced learning. Compared to his OCW course, this gentle introduction is for a more general audience, explaining key points with fun video animations rather than the beauty of calculus. Read on…

Why This MIT Professor Wants to Help Everyone Learn Basic Economics

Jonathan Gruber, Ford Professor of Economics, MIT

I’m excited to announce the launch of a new course on edX that covers Introductory AP Microeconomics. I’ve wanted to do a course like this for years. I have always found economics provides a terrific way to think about the world. Economics principles explain so much of what drives our everyday life: how people decide which goods to buy and how to spend their time; how firms set prices and hire workers, and whether the outcomes of markets are fair and efficient.

These economics principles were inspirational to me when I first learned them as an undergraduate. I have gone on to apply to them to a set of topics I am passionate about, both as a Professor at MIT and as a policy expert for both state and local governments. Whether in the classroom, in Washington D.C., or in state capitals, I have found that basic economic principles never lead me wrong in terms of explaining important aspects of the world.

Yet these basic economics principles are not understood by many. This isn’t surprising. Economics is kind of like a new language. Once you understand it, whole new experiences are open to you – but first you have to learn it, which can be hard.

But what is neat is that learning economics is it’s a whole lot easier than learning a new language. I have realized through years of teaching economics principles that with a relatively short set of lessons we can provide the tools for everyone to see the world the way economists do. And that’s what this course is about.

By combining short videos on economics principles with fun applications of those principles, the course provides both the level of economics knowledge that is sufficient to pass the Advanced Placement® exam and a means of understanding more broadly how economics works.  Now, more than ever, the lessons of the course and the questions that it asks are vital. Is going to college worth it? Why is Tesla building the world’s largest battery production plant? Is rising inequality something we should worry about, and what can we do about it?  These are hard questions – that become much easier once you understand the principles of economics.

Economics is a way of seeing the world that’s useful, but it’s also beautiful and surprising and cool. I truly believe our world would be better if everyone took this course. And I know that you’ll have a great time if you take it.

It’s Only Logical to Take This Math

Image of a 4x4 square puzzle with different numbers in each square, one square empty, and spelling out the course number 6 (blank) 4 2 on the diagonal.,

6.042 serves as an introduction to discrete mathematics, probability, and mathematical thinking for computer scientists. (Image by OpenCourseWare, based on an image by Nick Matsakis.)

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

If you’re interested in computer programming, you might be familiar with OCW’s extensive resources in the discipline, ranging from our introductory classes to the graduate courses offered by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Sooner or later, students must face the reality that to do serious programming, design algorithms, or become a software engineer, they need to know some math.

What kind of math?

The kind presented in 6.042J Mathematics for Computer Science, whose Spring 2015 course has just been published on OCW. Taught by Professors Albert Meyer and Adam Chlipala, the course has an extensive array of content covering a wide variety of mathematical topics. 

Tutorials, Textbook, and Much More

Chief among these resources are 130 short tutorial videos created by Professor Meyer, who drew on more than a decade of teaching experience in the subject to create them. Ever an educational innovator, and one of the first instructors to flip his classroom at MIT, Professor Meyer put his Spring 2015 course content on Residential MITx, MIT’s version of the Open edX platform. MIT students watched the videos via the online platform before coming to class, where they worked in teams to solve problems.

Screengrabs of video player, with interactive text transcript below, and interactive questions, with horizontal navigation bar above.

A sequence of two OCW pages from 6.042J. Left: Tutorial video, with interactive text transcript. Right: A pair of interactive questions that come after the video.

Now on OCW, the video tutorials are presented in the same sequential fashion, interspersed with brief interactive questions that allow you to check your understanding, over four learning units.

The in-class questions are also included on the course site, in a table showing the relevant video tutorial for each one, so you can get the same background that MIT students had when they were asked to face these challenges.

The entire course textbook is also available for free and can be downloaded.

All the non-video resources for the course are gathered together in a handy course index, so you can see in one place which resource aligns with which for each week of the semester, including the problem sets and exams.

Other Versions, Other Resources

The Spring 2015 course site is but the latest version of 6.042J to be published on OCW. Math enthusiasts can find more excitement in a Fall 2010 version taught by Professor Tom Leighton and Dr. Marten van Dijk (which features full video lectures), and a Fall 2005 version, co-taught by Professor Meyer and Professor Ronitt Rubenfield, that has solutions for its in-class problems, problem sets, and exams.

It all adds up to a very logical conclusion: OCW’s suite of 6.042J course sites is awesome!

MIT announces new learning research initiatives

Photo of student in a library working on papers and her laptop.MIT’s committed efforts to understand learning and improve it at all levels of education took a big step forward yesterday. As reported by MIT News:

MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced today a significant expansion of the Institute’s programs in learning research and online and digital education — from pre-kindergarten through residential higher education and lifelong learning — that fulfills a number of recommendations made in 2014 by the Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.

Most notably, Reif announced the creation of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili), to be led by Professor John Gabrieli, and a new effort to increase MIT’s ability to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning by students from pre-kindergarten through high school (pK-12), to be led by Professor Angela Belcher. The announcement also included a program to support faculty innovations in MIT residential education and new work to enhance MIT’s continuing education programs. Read more >

What does this mean for OCW and other MIT open educational resources? We look forward to providing better opportunities for learners, and sharing MIT’s latest teaching methods through initiatives like OCW Educator. The accompanying FAQ: Reshaping MIT’s programs in online and digital education states that

Research out of MITili will inform MIT’s digital learning and open education efforts, such as MIT OpenCourseWare, MITx, and the new MicroMaster’s program, and seeks to further improve these online learning platforms by applying latest developments in learning scholarship and educational technology. Read more >

Exciting times!

As an OpenMatters blog post wouldn’t be complete without some related OCW content, we heartily recommend MITili founding director John Gabrieli’s popular 9.00SC Introduction to Psychology. This OCW Scholar course takes you on an engaging scientific journey through human nature, including “how the mind works and how the brain supports the mind.”

Education is key in MIT’s new five-year plan for action on climate change

Arial photo of MIT campus.

Photo: Christopher Harting/AboveSummit

Yesterday MIT introduced a sweeping new five-year plan for action on climate change.

This plan embodies the fundamental agreement across our community that the problem of climate change, the subject of serious work at MIT for decades, demands society’s urgent attention. Given the Institute’s mission, history and capabilities, MIT has a particular responsibility to lead. Yet addressing this global problem will take deep societal change, and that means there is a role – and a personal responsibility – for everyone: every nation, every sector, every institution, every firm, every individual human being.

MIT News summarizes that the plan focuses MIT’s efforts in five areas whose elements have consensus support within the MIT community:

  1. research to further understand climate change and advance solutions to mitigate and adapt to it;
  2. the acceleration of low-carbon energy technology via eight new research centers;
  3. the development of enhanced educational programs on climate change;
  4. new tools to share climate information globally; and
  5. measures to reduce carbon use on the MIT campus.

Also noteworthy: the plan rejects the proposal for MIT to divest its investments in fossil fuel companies in favor of a strategy of active engagement; and specifically asserts the need for a price on carbon in order to align the incentives of industry with the imperatives of climate science.

The focus on educational programs is of particular interest to us at OCW. Enhancing the extensive educational opportunities currently available, the plan describes how MIT will:

  • offer an Environment and Sustainability undergraduate degree minor beginning in Fall 2017;
  • develop an online Climate Change and Sustainability credential offered through MITx on edX, building on Professor Kerry Emanuel’s outstanding course on climate change;
  • and, in a joint effort between MIT’s School of Engineering and School of Architecture and Planning, find ways to insert principles of “benign and sustainable design” more widely throughout MIT’s engineering and design instruction.

Stated simply: “Perhaps the most powerful way to trigger new thinking on climate is to educate a new generation of innovators—here on our campus and around the world.”

OCW heartily supports this effort. Check out our list of forty OCW courses on climate change and sustainability. We look forward to adding many more resources on this vital topic in the months and years ahead.

Going Green in Supply Chains

A protest against Nestle over the palm oil plantation controversy is used as a case study in ESD.S43 Green Supply Chain Management for students to learn about multi-stakeholder engagements and corporate social responsibilities. (Image courtesy of Philip Reynolds. Used with permission.)

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

By now, most people are somewhat familiar with the concept of a supply chain, the complex of systems that make it possible for a product to be developed, manufactured, and delivered to customers. In a global economy, many of these activities—extraction of resources, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing—take place in different countries. Understanding supply chains is thus crucial to success of a dynamic, world-wide enterprise.

You don’t hear much about how the role good environmental practices can play in supply chains and how they can be implemented to minimize the impact a business has on the planet.

Not unless you have explored ESD.S43 Green Supply Chain Management, a course that has just published on OCW. This half-semester graduate course  . . . “focuses on the fundamental strategies, tools and techniques required to analyze and design environmentally sustainable supply chain systems,” as the course site tells us. “Students work on course-long team projects that critically evaluate the environmental supply chain strategy of an industry or a publicly traded company.”

The course site has six video lectures, selected lecture notes, and a full reading list, consisting largely of case studies.

“These case studies reflect over five years of research completed here at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics,” says Dr. Edgar Blanco on the Instructor Insights page. “As part of this research, we worked with many companies. I had the opportunity to meet with leaders from these companies who were trying to implement sustainability initiatives. I learned first-hand about the struggles they encountered in this area.”

With co-instructors Dr. Alexis Bateman and Professor Anthony Craig, Dr. Blanco runs a discussion-based class, challenging students to think for themselves and question their own thinking. Typical questions on case studies include:

How much energy is used and how much carbon is released to make paper towels dispensed in a typical restroom? Would you save energy and release less carbon if an electric hand dryer was used? What factors should be included in such a determination?

Does it make sense to offer obsolete cell phones for reuse in other countries? Can this implementation of reverse logistics be sustainable? How?

ESD.S43 takes its place on a growing list of OCW courses on Supply Chains. These courses cover a range of topics, including planning and logistics to systems optimization.

People interested in how supply chains are designed should sign up for the MITx on edX course Supply Chain Design. But don’t delay! The course starts on September 30.