OCW Educator: New Ways to Search, New Ways to Find

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

OCW has just released a new portal for its Educator project that provides two new ways to search OCW’s collection of course sites. We’ve made a short video that gives an overview of the Educator project, shows how to get to the portal, and explains how it works.

20160224_EdPortal_Active Learning

Search by Instructional Approach allows users to look for courses by pedagogic topic. The search results produce a list of courses that have This Course at MIT pages with Instructor Insights explaining the course’s pedagogy. OCW currently has some 90 courses with Instructor Insights, with more being published every month.

The search topics cover a range of concepts, from “Active Learning” and “Assessment” to “Instructional Design” and “Learning Communities” to “Teaching Problem Solving” and “Teaching with Technology.” In seconds you can discover how individual MIT faculty members have gone about teaching their courses and how their approaches to teaching have evolved.


Search by Teaching Materials opens OCW’s vast library of resources to targeted queries by content type. You open the search in a given subject (e.g. Chemistry), then identify a content type (Assignments, AV lectures, Lecture Notes, etc.), and then, in some cases, a specialty (Video, e.g.). So if you want to find exams or projects for Mechanical Engineering classes, the Finder instantly takes you to all of OCW’s courses with these features.

The OCW staff has long known that users can face frustration trying to find what they need in OCW’s vast library of teaching materials for 2,330 courses. The new Educator portal lets users know that OCW has been listening. After all, we’re users too!

Eight new courses in January

A man in a suit and mask standing outdoors next to a computer

Explore topics like digital hacktivism by groups such as Anonymous in the new OCW course Current Debates in Media. (Image courtesy of Stian Eikeland on flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA.)

OCW added eight new courses during the month of January 2016, bringing the current collection to 2,325 courses in total.  Of these latest courses, six are brand new subjects on OCW and two are updates of previously published subjects.

New Courses

Updated Courses


Shh! (But we need your help!)


Image by Shreyans Bhansali

Dear Friends of OCW,

MIT OpenCourseWare is celebrating our 15th anniversary this year – and we need your help!

To celebrate, we’re creating a “surprise” thank you video to the MIT faculty who’ve made it possible for OCW to reach this milestone.

The video will star YOU and other OCW learners from around the world.

We would be forever grateful if you could record a video-selfie answering some (or all) of our questions below. There’s also a couple of technical guidelines below to help with the making of your video.

We need your submission by Friday, January 15, 2016 Wednesday, January 27, 2016 (new deadline)!

Thanks in advance for giving back!


The MIT OpenCourseWare Team



  • What is your name and where are you from?
  • Who told you about OCW?
  • What motivated you to use OCW?
  • Were the materials covered the hardest part about OCW?
  • What was your gut reaction (first sentence/thought) when you heard MIT class content was available online, free?
  • Have you built anything using your OCW learning? If so, can you show us?
  • Have you used anything you learned with OCW to give back to your community?
  • If you had to put a value on what you learned from OCW, how much would you say it’s worth?
  • What was your impression of MIT before knowing about OCW?
  • Can you remember the exact number of the course(s) you looked into?
  • Have you ever had a chance to thank MIT or your MIT professor?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to tell MIT or the world about OCW?


Would you please read the following lines:

Thank you, MIT.

For opening your books.

For opening your doors.

For opening your hearts.

I am course 14.01SC (Please fill in your course name/number – if you remember it)

I know you may not know me,

But I am your student.

And you are my professor.

Thank you!


Technical details:

  • Shoot horizontally.
  • Hold your phone steady – putting it on a mantel or something would be great, but don’t stand too far if that’s what you’re doing.
  • Don’t shoot from below the face.
  • Don’t shoot with a direct light source behind you – a window, the sun, a lamp etc.
  • Avoid noisy places – from waterfalls to kids or busy streets and cars.
  • Try incorporating the question into your answer, to give context (i.e. “When I first heard OCW materials were online and free, I thought….”)
  • If there’s a setting on your camera, set it (and then send it as large/best quality as possible).
  • Please upload your video(s) to this Link: WeTransfer.com


How to Send Your Videos

  1.  Go to WeTransfer.com
  2.  Click on the “+” symbol and attach the video file right from your smartphone that you would like to send us
  3. Type in MITOCW15@gmail.com as the recipient
  4. Type in your own email address
  5. In the “Message” section, please provide us with your name, email address and phone number. Only your first name, educational role (student, educator, independent learner) and Country will accompany your video. Please remember that anything published on our site is made available under a Creative Commons license that permits reuse and redistribution for non-commercial purposes.
  6. Click “Transfer” to send your video to us

No fooling: 20 more courses on OCW

Happy day-after-April Fools Day!

Since our previous “new courses” post in early January, OCW has published 20 more courses. Covering topics in STEM, humanities and social sciences fields, and ranging from introductory undergraduate to advanced graduate levels, these courses reflect the scope and depth of learning at MIT.

Eight courses are new subjects on OCW, while the other twelve are updates to previously published courses. Five courses have substantial video or audio lecture content, and two include an online textbook.

New courses:

Updated courses:

It’s Fair Use Week!

From the Fair Use Fundamentals infographic, courtesy of Fair Use Week (CC BY).

From the Fair Use Fundamentals infographic (PDF), courtesy of Fair Use Week (CC BY).

Fair Use Week is an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use in the United States and fair dealing in Canada and other jurisdictions. With a wealth of events and resources, it’s running February 23-27, 2015.

If you’ve used OpenCourseWare in the past few years, you’ve almost certainly benefited from our application of fair use. It allows us to retain more content, such as images and text excerpts in lecture notes, or media clips within lecture videos, that would otherwise have been cut out prior to our publication.

Since the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare was released at the end of 2009, fair use has led to more complete materials in over 180 OCW courses. That’s over 50% of the courses we’ve published during this time.  Across those courses, you’ll find about 4,000 pieces of content that would NOT be shared with you if not for fair use. And a few of these courses probably would not have been publishable without a fair use foundation.

To learn more about fair use in OpenCourseWare, see our FAQ on fair use.

New Sounds on OCW

Photo of two students conducting a group of student instrumentalists.

In 21M.355 Musical Improvisation, students demonstrate their design assignments on “Flexology,” an approach to conducted improvisation.

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Here’s one way to break through the wintertime blues: listen to some new and different sounds and revisit some familiar sounds toward a deeper understanding.

OCW has recently published three more courses from MIT’s department of Music and Theater Arts. Each course features rich arrays of learning and listening resources, including This Course at MIT pages in which the instructors share insights about their teaching.

21M.250 Beethoven to Mahler

This course, taught by Teresa Neff, includes a full discography, readings, lecture notes, plus some listening guides, musical scores, and links to music videos. It features a concert/demonstration video of Beethoven sonatas for fortepiano and violin, performed on period instruments.

This treatment of the Romantic genre rounds out OCW’s complete music history sequence on Western classical music: 21M.220 Early Music, 21M.235 Monteverdi to Mozart: 1600-1800, 21M.250 Beethoven to Mahler, 21M.262 Modern Music: 1900-1960 and 21M.263 Music Since 1960.

21M.355 Musical Improvisation

This course was taught by Mark Harvey and Tom Hall, along with several guest artists. The OCW site highlights the experiential and participatory nature of learning to improvise. Videos of selected classroom sessions cover Miles Davis’s “In A Silent Way,” Indian classical music, electronics, Mark Harvey’s signature method of conducted improvisation called “Flexology,” and more. Together, they show how lectures, labs, guest artist workshops, and student demonstrations weave together to help students learn.

The classroom videos are complemented by concert videos by the guest artists FiLmprov (improvising to accompany a film), Natraj (channeling traditions of world music), Neil Leonard and Robin Eubanks (incorporating live electronics), and Tre Corda (blending classical and jazz).

21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition

This course aims to give students of all backgrounds, including those with no prior musical training, “access to musical creativity.” Taught by Professor Keeril Makan, the course takes a novel approach to composition: in keeping with the hands-on spirit of MIT, students create and compose throughout the course. Professor Makan discusses how he deals with the challenge of this approach in his Instructor Insights section of his This Course at MIT page.

Supported by a wonderfully varied listening program, students progress through a series of written, recorded and live performance projects. Using models such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 5 and Ligeti’s Artikulation, written assignments “develop musical ideas and notation methods that effectively transmit them to performers,” as the syllabus says. Students produce recordings, sometimes employing ambient sounds and free audio software, or perform their pieces live in class. You can listen to some of these student projects, including one whose sounds originate from radioactive gamma particle decay, in the Composition Assignments section.