Francesco Potorti` pot a softwarelibero.it
Gio 28 Ago 2003 16:04:06 CEST

MIT caught distance educators by surprise in April 2001 when it announced 
plans to post the content of some 2,000 classes on the Web, saying it hoped 
to spur a worldwide movement among educators to share knowledge and improve 
teaching methods. In a world where most institutions are seeking to squeeze 
a few extra bucks from their Internet activities, here was a preeminent 
university willing to give it all away for free. "It's a profoundly simple 
idea that was not intuitive," says Anne Margulies, the former Harvard 
assistant provost and executive director of information systems who now 
heads up the MIT OpenCourseWare project. "At the time, the world was 
clamping down on information, limiting it to those who could pay for it." 
In September, MIT will officially launch OpenCourseWare with 500 courses, 
but during the past year's beta phase, it's already learned a few lessons, 
such as how do you discourage Third World scam artists from hawking MIT 
degrees as if they were Rolex knock-offs? Despite these problems, the test 
was hailed a success, and OpenCourseWare is now set to expand its outreach 
by offering translations of 25 courses into Spanish and Portuguese, 
courtesy of Universia, a Madrid-based consortium of universities. Similar 
offers from the Middle East, the Ukraine and Mongolia are under 
consideration. The real test, however, will be whether the project will 
sprout the online communities needed to support individual courses. "We'd 
like to see self-managed OpenCourseWare communities," says Margulies. "Our 
vision is to have this open source software on the site, as well as 
information that helps people build a learning community, whether it's in 
Namibia, Thailand, whatever." (Wired.com Sep 2003)

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