Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 164–174 | Cite as

The Creation of OpenCourseWare at MIT

  • Hal Abelson


This paper traces the genesis of the MIT OpenCourseWare project from its initial strategic precursors in 1999 and 2000, through its launch in 2001 and its subsequent evolution. The story told here illuminates the interplay among institutional leadership, and strategic planning, and with university culture in launching major educational technology enterprises. It also shows how initiatives can evolve in unexpected ways, and can even surpass their initial goals. The paper concludes with an overview of challenges facing OpenCourseWare in moving from the end of its production ramp-up and towards sustainability.


educational technology open educational resources online learning 



The following members of the MIT community graciously provided background information for this essay: Alex d’Arbeloff, Jesús del Alamo, Steve Carson, Andrew Eisenmann, Morton Flemings, Eric Grimson, Judson Harward, Anne Margulies, Jennifer Stine, Diana Strange, John Vandersande, and Dick Yue. The early phase of OpenCourseWare is also discussed by Steve Lerman and Shigeru Miyagawa in “Open Course Ware: A Case Study in Institutional Decision Making,” Academe Online, vol. 88, no. 5, Sept.–Oct. 2002, at <>, visited June 27, 2006.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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