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!


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? (

“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.


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.

The MIT freshman year, all in OCW Scholar

Graphic introducing OCW Scholar

What’s it like to be a freshman at MIT? Dorms, roommates, late-night pizza…new opportunities for hands-on learning, collaboration, and rich personal connections…and a rigorous and fascinating set of courses.

OCW can’t give you campus living or discover your new favorite lab partner. But with our OCW Scholar collection, you can explore all of the courses in a typical MIT freshman year: six core classes in calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology, and a couple of electives. Each OCW Scholar course has everything you need for self-study: lecture videos with some of MIT’s best faculty, notes, assignments and exams with solutions, and supplemental problem solving or study materials.

You might follow the example of new MIT freshman Monica Valcourt, recently profiled in MIT News. While a high school sophomore, Monica used the OCW Scholar course 9.00SC Introduction to Psychology for independent study, since her school didn’t offer a psychology course. She got her school to grade her work and provide credit for this course. Watching the videos, reading the books, and doing the homework ultimately earned her an A in the course. Monica continued on with other OCW courses, including computer programming — which she hopes will become her MIT major.

Here’s what a typical MIT freshman might take, assuming no AP credits for physics or calculus:

Semester 1

Semester 2

The OCW Scholar collection continues with several more STEM subjects taken by many MIT sophomores: differential equations, linear algebra, physics of vibrations and waves, probabilityintroduction to electrical engineering, and engineering dynamics.

With fifteen courses in all, OCW Scholar gives you a hearty slice of the MIT undergraduate experience. But you’ll need to supply the pizza.

MOOCs and OCW: A Learning Ecosystem

The first MOOCs have produced abundant data about students and learning behaviors, and perhaps even more press coverage about what it all means for the future of education.

Take the oft-discussed low completion rates of most MOOCs. Christine Nasserghodsi’s recent piece in HuffPost Education highlights how, for many students, completing a course is really not the goal…and that should be just fine.

…[C]ompletion rates only tell part of the story. I asked several high school students who enrolled in MOOCs whether or not they earned certificates. Each and every one said they had not, and yet they did not classify themselves as having dropped out of the MOOC. They simply explained that it didn’t matter. They signed up for pre-exam preparation, curriculum enrichment, or out of a personal interest. Their goals did not involve earning a certificate. As Justin Reigh and Andrew Ho wrote in their 2014 Atlantic article, “The Tricky Task of Figuring Out What Makes a MOOC Successful,”

“Our data show that many who register for HarvardX courses are engaging substantially in courses without earning a certificate. In these courses, ‘dropping out’ is not a breach of expectations but the natural result of an open, free, and asynchronous registration process, where students get just as much as they wish out of a course and registering for a course does not imply a commitment to completing it.”

If learning about specific things on your own schedule is more important to you than completing courses, you’ve not alone. Indeed, Reigh and Ho suggests you are central to the future of learning:

…[O]ur research describes an emerging learning ecosystem, one where enrollment can be casual and nonbinding, learning happens asynchronously, and registrants come from all countries in the world, with diverse intentions and patterns of learning.

These qualities — casual and nonbinding, asychronous, global — describe the learning mission we’ve always had at MIT OpenCourseWare. Start by finding your topic or search among the thousands of always-available courses and resources on OCW. Dive in, explore, bookmark and return later, even download the materials for future use. All with no registration required.

Meanwhile, with more MOOCs being offered every month, chances get better all the time that you’ll also find an edX course to complement what you’ve found on OCW. Don’t be shy about registering, and simply use the bits that appeal to you. You’ll have lots of company!

Maryland school promotes digital learning with flipped classrooms, online independent study courses (Carroll County Times)

Liberty promotes digital learning with flipped classrooms, online independent study courses

ELDERSBURG — Taylor Jones is enjoying the new way she’s learning math.

Jones, a freshman, is part of a conceptual algebra class at Liberty High School that’s functioning under a flipped classroom model.

Students watch a lecture for homework and then work on practice problems and ask questions of their teacher the next day in class.

“I think it’s a lot easier,” she said.

Liberty High School has piloted the flipped classroom and OpenCourseWare independent study courses this school year as part of a larger transition to digital learning. Students in certain social studies, science and math classes throughout all grades and academic levels are currently taking part in the flipped classroom pilot.

Jared Wastler, assistant principal at Liberty High School, said the goal is to move the school away from a static educational environment by getting students and staff members more connected to technology.

“Last spring, we asked if we could pilot the flipped classroom model,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that we utilized county technology and resources to best benefit our students and our staff.”

During the current spring semester, the school is using the OpenCourseWare program for the first time. With it, students are using free, online classes for independent study, Wastler said.

Four students are taking free classes put online by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one student is taking a course through the University of California, Berkeley. Course subjects include microeconomics, introduction to disease and cancer research and nutrition.

Participating students must complete the online course in nine weeks, or a quarter of the school year, then complete a research project with an industry mentor, Wastler said.

The culminating experience, during which the mentor visits the school, is a presentation of their research and a reflection on their learning, Wastler said. Read more.

Open Education Week 10-15 March 2014: Call for Participation (OCW Consortium)

Open Education Week 10-15 March 2014: Call for Participation

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

The Open Education Week Organizing Committee invites your contributions to and participation in the third annual Open Education Week, featuring online and in-person events around the world.

Ways to Contribute:

There are many ways you can contribute to Open Education Week: upload an informational or inspirational video, host an event in your community, send us links to resources about open education, hold a webinar, and promote open education week in your social media networks. To contribute a video or resource, or to have your event or webinar featured on the Open Education Week Events calendar, please use the submission form at To get the website ready, we need your submissions by 28 February 2014.

You are welcome to submit multiple resources or events.

Please visit for more information, ideas and FAQ, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @openeducationwk, or contact us at

The full call for participation is available here. Help us spread the word and make this year’s open education week a huge success!