In a world where knowledge is power - and pretty big business - you would think that an institution like MIT (Massachusettes Institute of Technology) would carefully protect its product - the 2000 (or so) courses it sells to students for $26,000/year (each!)
Well, that type of attitude wouldn't get the school featured on Swimupstream / Innovative Thinking!
Starting with MIT OpenCourseWare in 2001, MIT made a conscious decision to give away the course content of (at first) a small number of courses. The goal had already been set to eventually offer every course online at zero charge.
Do you remember 2001? Everyone was trying to figure out how to sell things, or show things, or do things online to make millions (Amazon, Ebay etc.) University's were no different... apparently almost every campus had a team of people racing to figure out how to upload a University and download it to the PAYING student.
MIT's bold move to forgo charging, making a world class education (albeit without the paperwork) available to anyone with an internet connection, went against every fibre of the 2001 business culture.
The announcement in the New York Times back in 2001 set a goal of having all 2000 courses uploaded by 2011 at a cost of $100 million. The immediate prospects for recouping that investment were likely minimal since huge dot.com businesses like Amazon weren't even making any money and they WERE selling things.
Read the announcement and you'll quickly realize that the whole vision was to share knowledge with the world and create a better planet by making information and knowledge more easily accessible. Noble indeed.
It's not just a heartwarming story for people who appreciate GREAT vision. These tools are here for all of us to use... and there's a lot more than just hardcore Math like the MIT you saw in Good Will Hunting!
Do you think there are any courses from a top business school you could benefit from? MIT's entire Sloan School of Management is online... as one example.
Have a look at the Departments available.
Not content, MIT's newest project, MITx, will take the offering one step further by providing the course content, student interaction, evaluations and certificates of completion for a vast range of MIT courses... again free of charge.
Hopefully MITx will become the new Angry Birds or Farmville, creating millions of addicted 'students' battling to see how many certificates they can get!
Congrats MIT! Thank you for swimming upstream!