A Day in the Life with MIT OpenCourseWare

Photo of Cathleen

Cathleen Nalezyty (‘16), OCW digital publication specialist, provides insight into the OCW Team

For OCW, there is joy in helping people achieve their learning goals
By Yvonne Ng | MIT Open Learning

Every day at OCW, the team looks forward to creating, collaborating, and above all, learning. Each team member recognizes the importance of their role in helping to publish the free MIT courses so many learners around the world use and enjoy.

For Cathleen Nalezyty (‘16), a digital publication specialist, OCW is an expression of the Institute’s commitment to advancing knowledge to serve the world. She shared some of her thoughts about what it’s like to work at OCW every day.

What is a typical day like for you? What are some of the highlights?

It’s hard to say what a “typical” day is like—it varies so much depending on what courses I’m working on. One day I might be writing a list of edits for course videos and another I might be making PDFs accessible and adding metadata. Other days I may be reaching out to instructors of classes I’d like to see on OCW or contacting guest lecturers outside of MIT to get permission to use their work in the course.

Something that always makes my week (and often my month!) is when one of my larger courses goes live on OCW. There’s a lot of work and time invested in these courses. This is especially true for video courses, where the process takes months, since we start working with the professors before the class even starts, throughout the course, and only get to start building the course after that! I love getting to send out emails to our faculty letting them know that their course is published and open to the public.

Photo of Professor Strang leacturing in class

The OCW Video Team works to capture MIT professors sharing their knowledge. Here is Professor Strang lecturing in class.

What do you like about working with MIT faculty or fellow team members?

Working with MIT faculty is always inspiring as they’re the best in their field and yet, they’re also wonderfully human. (Some of my best conversations with faculty are completely incidental—like spending a few minutes at the end of a meeting talking about Tolkien because you happened to notice a particularly nice edition of The Lord of the Rings on their shelf…) They’re also very passionate about teaching and are excited to be able to share their knowledge with the world!

What about the OCW mission inspires you?

It’s really inspiring to know that the work you’re doing can help so many other people. OCW has a huge reach and that’s because it’s part of our mission: we want anyone to be able to access our content from anywhere. It’s incredible to work with a team who wants to share this knowledge, not just with MIT students, but everyone—from lifelong learners to other educators to curious high school students.

Is there anything else you want learners to know?

We love getting to hear your stories and your kind comments! We even have a little board right now that’s decorated with your quotes.

OCW spotlights learner feedback

OCW has a wall dedicated to wonderful feedback from learners.

Every day Cathleen and the OCW team work to meet the needs of learners eager to enhance their knowledge, lift up their communities, and change the world for the benefit of everyone. If OCW has been a valuable resource to you, please consider supporting our work with a gift on March 12, 2020 during the MIT 24-Hour Challenge. Visit us online to learn more or to support OCW on March 12. 

2019 is Your New Year of Learning!

2019 is your new year of learning! To kick off your educational journey, our fabulous team of OCW Publication Specialists came up with some of the essential courses to ignite your entrepreneurial spirit and exercise your creativity and logical thinking.

Consider the following as gentle suggestions for your new year resolutions. And may your curiosity be your guide!

Be Your Own Boss With These Entrepreneurship Courses:

  • 16.660J / ESD.62J / 16.853 Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods -This course covers the fundamental principles, practices and tools of Lean Six Sigma methods that underlay modern organizational productivity approaches applied in aerospace, automotive, health care, and other sectors. It includes lectures, active learning exercises, a plant tour, talks by industry practitioners, and videos.
  • 15.S21 Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans – Devise your master plan with this course that covers the basics of starting your new venture. The course includes a video and slide player to see the lecturer while the slides advance automatically.

  • 15.390 New Enterprises – The video tutorials are great for people who want to start their own business, further develop an existing business, be a member of a management team in a new enterprise, or better understand the entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial process.

New Year’s Resolution: Learn Something New

New Year’s Resolution: Travel More

  • 21L.007 World Literatures: Travel Writing – Read writing about travel and place from Columbus’s Diario through the present. (The reading list is particularly good.) Travel writing has some special features that will shape both the content and the work for this subject: reflecting the point of view, narrative choices, and style of individuals, it also responds to the pressures of a real world only marginally under their control. Whether the traveler is a curious tourist, the leader of a national expedition, or a starving, half-naked survivor, the encounter with place shapes what travel writing can be.

New Year’s Resolution: Read More

  • 21L.004 Reading Poetry – How do you read a poem? Intuition is not the only answer. In this class, we will investigate some of the formal tools poets use—meter, sound, syntax, word-choice, and other properties of language—as well as exploring a range of approaches to reading poetry, from the old (memorization and reading out loud) to the new (digitally enabled visualization and annotation).
  • 21L.001 Foundations of Western Culture: Homer to Dante – As we read broadly from throughout the vast chronological period that is “Homer to Dante,” we will pepper our readings of individual ancient and medieval texts with broader questions like: what images, themes, and philosophical questions recur through the period; are there distinctly “classical” or “medieval” ways of depicting or addressing them; and what do terms like “Antiquity” or “the Middle Ages” even mean?
  • 21L.002 Foundations of Western Culture: The Making of the Modern World – This course comprises a broad survey of texts, literary and philosophical, which trace the development of the modern world from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century. Intrinsic to this development is the growth of individualism in a world no longer understood to be at the center of the universe. The texts chosen for study exemplify the emergence of a new humanism, at once troubled and dynamic in comparison to the old.
  • 21L.430 / CMS.920 Popular Culture and Narrative: Use and Abuse of the Fairy Tale – We ask where Fairy Tales come from and we examine the structure of Fairy Tales. We’ll also look at how Fairy Tales are conditioned by oral transmission and inherited story-telling techniques.

New Year’s Resolution: Laugh More

 

Want to learn even more? Check out any and all 2,447 free MIT courses on OCW!

The Most Social on Social

Here are few of OCW’s most popular blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts of 2015.

Top Blog Posts

Top Tweets

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Top Facebook Posts

MIT MicroMaster's Announcement

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The inspiring story of Ahaan Rungta

Photo of young man working at a table in MIT dining area with his laptop, writing in a notebook.

Ahaan Rungta, MIT Class of 2019 (Photo by M. Scott Brauer)

“Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.”

By Laurie Everett | MIT OpenCourseWare

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son—already an avid reader—would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Ahaan, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten Ahaan was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Ahaan’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was five I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

Thank you for using MIT OpenCourseWare

Dear Friends of OCW,

Thank you!

2014 was another terrific year for OCW and it was made possible by you. Whether you used OCW to refresh your knowledge, learn a new skill, or help with your current studies, we are grateful to you and the millions of people who make OCW materials an essential part of their lifelong educational journey.

In the coming year, we will continue to focus on OCW’s core mission of publishing new and updated course materials created by MIT faculty. We also plan on improving site search with faceted categories, allowing users to drill down to very specific resources that best align with their needs. Our goal is to excite your academic curiosity and encourage you to grow intellectually.

We look forward to continuing to serve you and the global community of learners in 2015. Again, thank you!

Sincerely,

Cecilia d’Oliveira
Executive Director
MIT OpenCourseWare

p.s. Below are some highlights of 2014.

OCW 2014 highlights.

OCW 2014 highlights.

Hey there little electron, why won’t you tell me where you came from? (Wired.com)

“I want to tell you about one of the most beautiful ideas that I know.

It’s a physics experiment, and it’s beautiful because in one elegant stroke, it expands our consciousness, forcing us to realize that objects can behave in ways that are impossible for us to picture (but remarkably, possible for us to calculate). It’s beautiful because it calls into question the bedrock of logic on which we’ve built our understanding of the world. It’s beautiful because it’s deceivingly simple to understand, and yet its consequences are deeply unsettling. And it’s beautiful because I refused to accept it until I ran the experiment for myself, and I distinctly remember watching my worldview shatter as the picture slowly built up on the computer monitor.”

So begins Aatish Bhatia’s eloquent blog post about the existential challenges posed by close observations of the humble electron. You may have some sense of its supposed duality: sometimes it’s like a particle, other times it’s like a wave. Right? You may recall how the so-called “double-slit experiment” opened our eyes to its wave-like behavior.

Doubleslit3Dspectrum

Animation of the double-slit experiment, showing how wave interference patterns lead to the observed pattern of fringes on the screen. (Wikipedia: Lookang, License CC BY-SA)

But calling an electron a “particle” or a “wave” is just an analogy, and a reflection of limits in our popular language. Electrons are not particles. They are not waves. They are not simultaneously both particles and waves; nor are they neither of these. So much for conventional logic.

Physicists have devised the mathematical language of quantum mechanics to fill the void in vocabulary, and given the name superposition to this fundamental state of being.

A rousing introduction to superposition is how Prof. Allan Adams kicks off his new OCW course 8.04 Quantum Physics I.  Aatish credits Prof. Adams’ videos as the primary inspiration of his post, adding, “The first lecture is an fascinating and often hilarious look at the principle of superposition explained in a non-technical way. I highly recommend checking it out – he’s a very engaging lecturer.”

We couldn’t agree more. Spend an hour with Prof. Adams’ introductory lecture, and your world will never be the same.