MIT model explains how the brain can learn novel tasks while still remembering what it has already learned.
A detailed OpenCourseWare survey released in March has confirmed what MIT has heard anecdotally since the pilot site of 32 courses launched in fall 2002: educators, students and self-learners around the world are using OCW course materials, and overwhelmingly, they find the materials useful in meeting their learning and teaching goals.
During a two-week period in November 2003, OpenCourseWare asked about one in 40 visitors to participate in an online intercept survey, resulting in about 21,500 solicitations with a 5.7 percent response rate. OCW's evaluation team also conducted supplemental surveys and in-depth interviews with smaller samples to probe more deeply into how people were using the OCW material.
On average, OCW records more than 11,000 visits per day, with nearly a quarter-million unique visitors per month. About 45 percent of these visitors are from the United States and Canada. Outside North America, the top countries of origin are China, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Brazil and Japan.
About 52 percent of visitors identify themselves as self-learners, 31 percent as students enrolled in a formal course of study, and 13 percent as educators. MIT views educators as a particularly important target audience because through their efforts, the MIT faculty's course materials can touch the greatest number of people and have the most profound impact on education around the world.
OCW asked visitors their primary purpose in using MIT course materials. Of those who identified themselves as educators, about 57 percent said they use it for course or curriculum development, 33 percent to enhance their subject matter understanding or support their research, and 7 percent for student advising.
For a more detailed look at OCW's measurement and evaluation results, go to http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Global/AboutOCW/evaluation.htm.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 5, 2004.