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For the full evaluation report and study, please see the 2005 MIT OCW Program Evaluation Findings Report (June 2006) (PDF - 9.4 MB).

With 1,550 courses now available, MIT is delivering on the promise of MIT OpenCourseWare. We have heard from educators and learners around the world that they are benefiting from the materials offered freely and openly on the MIT OCW site.

In order to understand how well MIT OCW is fulfilling its mission -- as well as to establish a thorough and continuous feedback process that guarantees its improvement over time -- we have developed a substantial evaluation program. The evaluation is focused on understanding specifics in three areas of user behavior:

  • Access: Who is accessing MIT OCW, what are their profiles (educator, student, self-learner, other), what are their disciplines (or other interests), and where are they located?
  • Use: How do educators and learners use MIT OCW and is MIT OCW designed appropriately to facilitate that use? To what extent and in what ways are MIT course materials adopted or adapted for teaching purposes?
  • Impact: What effects -- positive or negative, intended or unintended -- are being realized through the use of MIT OCW?

The evaluation was undertaken in 2005. Data collection employed an integrated "portfolio approach," as a combination of methods helped to achieve both breadth and depth in the evaluation.


Online access to MIT OpenCourseWare content continues to grow dramatically on and on translation sites, with currently more than 1 million monthly visits to OCW content, and a 56% annual increase in visits.

Online access to MIT OCW content has grown dramatically on the site itself and on translation sites.

  • 8.5 M visits to OCW content last year, a 56% annual increase
  • 350+ courses translated and 70 mirror sites globally

OCW materials are being widely distributed offline to secondary audiences.

  • 18% of visitors distribute copies of OCW material to others
  • 46% of educators reuse site contents; of those, 30% give students printed copies, 24% provide digital copies

OCW is accessed by a broadly international population of educators and learners.

  • 61% of OCW traffic is non-US; East Asia-22%, Western Europe-15%, South Asia-6%, Latin America-5%, other regions-13%
  • 49% of visitors are self learners, 32% students, 16% educators

Visits most often begin on the site directly and average 9.2 page views.

  • 37% of visits are direct traffic, 26% come via search engines, 21% from MIT's web site, 16% other referrers
  • Visits average 9.2 page views; 29% include 5 or more and 6% include more than 25

Visitors are largely satisfied with the file formats for OCW print and video content, but would prefer more options.

  • 98% of visitors find PDF suitable, and 26% prefer it; other formats requested include MS Office (36%) and HTML (16%)
  • 82% of visitors to video pages are satisfied with RealMedia; 66% prefer to download rather than stream


The OCW site is being used by educators, students and self learners to successfully accomplish a wide range of educational objectives; and visitors are widely satisfied with the breadth, depth and quality of OCW content.

OCW use is centered on subjects for which MIT is a recognized leader.

  • EECS, Math, Management, Physics, Economics and Mechanical Engineering are 33% of OCW courses and attract 62% of traffic
  • The OCW site is being successfully used by educators, students and self learners for wide range of purposes.
  • Educator uses: planning a course (26%), preparing to teach a class (22%), enhancing personal knowledge (19%)
  • Student uses: complementing a course (38%), enhancing personal knowledge (34%), planning course of study (16%)
  • Self learner uses: enhancing personal knowledge (56%), keeping current in field (16%), planning future study (14%)
  • 41% are completely successful; 51% are somewhat successful

Nearly half of educators visiting the site have reused site content, and most expect to do so in the future.

  • 46% of educators have adopted or adapted site content; 92% plan to in the future
  • 62% combine OCW materials with other content; 38% adapt course syllabi; 26% adapt assignments or exams

Visitors consider site materials to be up-to-date and are largely satisfied with site content breadth, depth and quality.

  • 97% of visitors agree that OCW materials are up to date
  • 93% of visitors are satisfied with site breadth; 87% are satisfied with depth of courses; 91% are satisfied with quality

Most MIT faculty contribute to the OCW site and many feel they have improved their classes through publication.

  • 75% of MIT's faculty have published courses on OCW
  • 49% participating have published 2 or more courses
  • 32% agree publishing improves their teaching materials

The OCW site is widely used by the MIT community and is a significant influence on prospective students.

  • 71% of students, 59% of faculty and 42% of alumni use the site
  • 35% of freshmen aware of OCW before deciding to attend MIT were influenced by it
  • 69% of MIT students say OCW has positively impacted student experience


Educators and learners report high levels of current impact, and expectations for even higher future impact; institutions worldwide are both using MIT OCW materials and openly publishing their own materials.

Visitors say that OCW has already had significant impact and expect even greater impact in the future.

  • 80% of visitors rate OCW's impact as extremely positive or positive; 91% expect that level of future impact
  • 96% of educators say the site has/will help improve courses
  • 96% of visitors would recommend the site

OCW is increasingly cited in professional and popular literature as an influential open sharing project.

  • More than 300 articles in global media including CNN International, The Times of India, Forbes, and The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Student newspaper editorials at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Duke, and Penn calling for OCWs at those schools

Institutions internationally and in the US are publishing openly, creating a growing body of available courseware.

  • 100 institutions worldwide openly publishing courses; 30 more with projects underway
  • Over 2,000 courses openly published globally, one third from institutions other than MIT