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The liberalization of learning

Triatno Yudo Harjoko of Indonesia

MIT OCW user.

Triatno Yudo Harjoko has a long and close association with the University of Indonesia in Depok, Indonesia. A graduate of the institution, Harjoko has also been a professor of architecture at the school since 1979, and is currently head of the architecture department. In addition, Harjoko has designed several of the university’s buildings, including the expansive Faculty of Engineering complex, and the stunning University Mosque.

Harjoko characterizes the learning atmosphere at the University of Indonesia as primarily a one-way street, in which professors are assumed to be knowledge-bearers, and students are expected to master a predetermined knowledge base. This approach, while typical of many Indonesian institutions, is something that Harjoko has been attempting to change in his department. Together with his colleagues, Harjoko is redesigning the teaching model, moving toward an active, student-centered learning process.

Harjoko describes the main goal in this transition as “encouraging students to learn by themselves, and to be both critical and creative.”

In the redesign process, MIT’s OpenCourseWare — to which Harjoko was introduced by a colleague several years ago — has served as an immense comparative database for Harjoko and his fellow professors. Rather than directly transposing MIT OCW syllabi to University of Indonesia courses, Harjoko and his colleagues have been scrutinizing MIT’s courses to better understand how they were designed and developed. “We try to understand how the MIT courses are formulated,” Harjoko explains, “and what the expected outcomes are. This gives us an important perspective on the learning process.”

Two courses for which this approach has been particularly helpful, he adds, are architectural theory and structure.

“I was surprised and amazed that such a renowned university as MIT would freely give access to almost all of its educational information to the world,” continues Harjoko. “This is important, because critical thinking and creativity demand the liberalization of learning and information. But I also believe that it’s not simply the information that’s valuable, but also the glimpse it offers into how MIT has structured its teaching and research to become such a prestigious institution.”

“An intellectual gem”

Capt. Kevin Gannon of the United States Navy

Kevin Gannon, OCW user.Based at the San Diego Naval Station, the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) provides maintenance support and maintenance training to more than 50 surface ships, aircraft carriers, and submarines of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. This is a weighty responsibility for U.S. Navy Captain Kevin Gannon, Commander of the SWRMC — as is the complement of roughly 3,000 sailors and civilians under his command. 

Captain Gannon, who describes himself as a “lifelong learner,” holds an undergraduate degree from Tulane University in mathematics, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, and an MS in Systems Engineering from University of Virginia. But he is quick to point out that his education is not confined to formal schooling; in each of his positions in the Navy, Gannon has worked to keep abreast of new developments in his fields of expertise.

Gannon describes his main responsibilities at SWRMC as overseeing lots of industrial processes (anything from fixing a pump to overhauling a gun) — and he is constantly looking for ways to streamline these processes. This quest led him to MIT’s OpenCourseWare several years ago, while browsing for information on lean manufacturing.

“Lean is a tool that industry has been using for the last couple of years,” explains Gannon, “focusing on process improvement, and minimizing waste. I was looking generically for lean information, and stumbled across OCW. I was really impressed. This site is a true intellectual gem. They have a couple of lean classes in the engineering section, such as Course ESD.60 – Lean/Six Sigma Processes, that were very useful.”

MIT OCW has also proved helpful in other areas of Gannon’s job. For example: leadership training for the sailors under his command is one of his major concerns. So, soon after discovering the MIT OCW Web site, Gannon browsed through the MIT Sloan School courses on OCW to see if any of these courses could be helpful. “The Leading Organizations course [Course 15.322] has turned me on to all sorts of useful references,” Gannon says. “We’ve used a bunch of books mentioned in the syllabus. And the lecture notes are also an important tool. They include documents on the problems and prospects of a changing organizational world, and models of organizational change. We’ve used these for our discussion and our teaching here.”

“OCW has definitely accelerated our ability to train,” Gannon continues. “As far as I’m concerned, these courses are already tried-and-true. They’ve worked with a high-performing group. They’re a nicely bundled package, and they’re free. How can you beat that?”

From diving to surfing

Rogelio Morales of Venezuela

Rogelio Morales, MIT OCW user.

A metallurgical engineering graduate of the Central University of Venezuela, Rogelio Morales has some unusual entries on his resume. For one thing, he is a licensed commercial diver, and once worked as a professional diver for eight months with Titan Maritime, and as the trainer for commercial Diving with the Divers Institute of Technology, in Seattle, Washington.

Morales loved his underwater work, but quickly decided that he was more interested in underwater inspection than in commercial diving. This led him back home, to a master’s program at Central University of Venezuela in non-destructive testing. “It’s a less-invasive method of testing,” Morales explains. “You don’t have to destroy something to see if it is warped. You can use different methods, like X-rays, testing magnetic particles, and ultrasonic. It fits in well with my background in metallurgical engineering.”

Morales first encountered MIT’s OpenCourseWare when he was looking on the Internet for information on stereoscopic vision, which has enormous potential for divers encountering turbid water conditions. Morales was able to find helpful information on MIT OCW, especially in Course 9.357 – Special Topics in Vision Science. The projects for Course 2.019 – Design of Ocean Systems I, also provided Morales with a wealth of new and useful concepts.

Morales acknowledges that some of the same ideas he has found on MIT OCW are probably also available in the Central University library, in books or journals. “But with books,” he argues, “it’s much harder to find this information in a timely fashion. And with OCW, you also know that it’s new information.”

Morales has been quick to share information about MIT OCW with other students — and professors — in his program. “I often download information from the Web site in different topics,” he explains, “and give it to a professor in my faculty. Sometimes we discuss the information, other times they use the slides from the site in class. It’s a great resource.”

Morales also feels that MIT OCW has a broader potential in Venezuela. “Not everybody in Venezuela has the opportunity to go to college,” he points out. “It’s really hard to get into university, so OCW is a great option. For example, there’s a program here called New Neighborhood. They use OCW to download information for poor people on technology, or humanities, or other areas. This has allowed a lot of people to access this information who might otherwise have been unable to do so. OCW has enormous potential for our country.”

A diverse and comprehensive resource

Kushal Duneja of Bahrain

Kushal Duneja, MIT OCW user.

An operations manager for CitiGroup in Manama, Bahrain, Kushal Duneja has spent many years in the financial services field, working for Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and CDC Capital Partners as an auditor, investment analyst, and private equity analyst. Duneja — who grew up in India, Tanzania, Zambia, and South Africa — holds degrees from the University of London, the University of Delhi, and the University of South Africa.

Duneja came across MIT OpenCourseWare several years ago while surfing the Internet for information on financial engineering. “It was sometime back,” he recalls, “and I remember it was on my Blackberry, so it was really tiny… but when I started to scroll down, I was really excited. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is great, I’ve been looking for stuff like this!’ So I went back and looked at it on a full screen, and downloaded some courses.”

Duneja has found a wide range of useful materials, including information on real estate investing. In addition, somewhat to his surprise, he has found Course 15.280 – Communications for Managers, to be a very helpful tool. “I haven’t done many of the hard skill courses,” Duneja explains. “But some of the softer skill courses have been very helpful. ‘Communications for Managers’ is an excellent presentation of how managers can improve communication, and how we tend to use our credibility instead of the subject matter when trying to sell ideas. It also had some very useful tips on preparing presentations. That was something I could use and apply immediately.

“I thought this material was so helpful,” Duneja continues, “that I’ve also downloaded some of the stuff and shared it with my colleagues. Their feedback was very positive — they really thought it was quite insightful.”

Duneja is not the only one in his family who has benefited from MIT OCW. “My wife actually discovered OCW without me ever mentioning it to her – it was quite funny!” he explains. “One day I got home and she was looking at MIT’s Web site, and downloading stuff, and I said, ‘Hey, what are you doing, how did you find this?’ She’s a lecturer in computer applications, and she found OCW on the Web, and started to use material from the site.”

Duneja is an experienced consumer of information on the Web, and ­— in his opinion — MIT OCW stands apart from other sites. “I think OCW certainly one of the most diverse and comprehensive collection of courses on the net,” Duneja says. “I haven’t yet come across any other university site or public institution site that provides that sort of information. You can get all the stats from the Federal Reserve and other places, but nothing as comprehensive as what exists on MIT.”

Points of access in the developing world

François Viruly of South Africa

Francois Viruly, MIT OCW user.

As director of Viruly Consulting — a leading South African real estate analysis firm — property economist François Viruly has acquired extensive experience in the South African commercial real estate market over the past decade. Viruly is passionate about his field, and makes an effort to share his expertise with students at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, as well as the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria.

One of Viruly’s regular courses is a property investment module for graduate students at the University of the Witwatersrand. When Viruly first began teaching the module several years ago, he chose as his textbook Commercial Real Estate Analysis & Investments, a graduate-level real estate text written by MIT Professor David Geltner. As Viruly began to design the module as a complement to the text, he came across MIT’s OpenCourseWare, and was excited to discover that the author himself had already structured a course, Course 11.431J – Real Estate Finance and Investment, to fit the text. Viruly readily adapted a similar structure to fit his module.

“OCW is just a great system,” declares Viruly. “It opens up knowledge across the world, which I think is critical.  And it allows universities like ours — and I think this is important by itself — to benchmark our teaching. It gives us confidence that we’re in close contact with the international body of knowledge, and international standards. In addition, it assures the students that they are receiving high-quality instruction. What it really means to them is that we are following a course and a methodology which is of the highest caliber.”

Asked if real estate instruction can really follow the same model in countries as different as the United States and South Africa, Viruly admits that there are some crucial distinctions. “Obviously, some of the course material is focused on the United States,” he agrees. “We have specific issues in a developing country, and so we complement the OCW materials with South African material, and substitute different assignments. Nevertheless, I think the OCW model is especially important in developing cultures.  It can make such a difference to students here to have access to the best professors in the world.”

In reading the stories of real people who are benefiting from MIT OpenCourseWare, we hope that other colleges and universities around the world are inspired to openly share their knowledge and educational materials. The hope is that educators around the world will be able to utilize the course materials presented on the MIT OCW Web site for curriculum development, and learners will be able to draw upon the materials for self-study or supplementary use. If you would like to share your story with us for the purposes of developing user profiles, please contact MIT OCW Communications, at

"This has allowed a lot of people to access this information who might otherwise have been unable to do so. OCW has enormous potential for our country." - Rogelio Morales of Venezuela
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"I thought the OCW material was so helpful that I’ve also downloaded some of the stuff and shared it with my colleagues. Their feedback was very positive – they really thought it was quite insightful." - Kushal Duneja of Bahrain
Read more

"OCW opens up knowledge across the world, which I think is critical.  And it allows universities like ours — and I think this is important by itself — to benchmark our teaching assures the students that they are receiving high-quality instruction. What it really means to them is that we are following a course and a methodology which is of the highest caliber. - François Viruly of South Africa
Read more