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The publication lifecycle of the MIT faculty's content is the core process of MIT OpenCourseWare, which is best understood as a digital publishing organization. Working with faculty, the MIT OCW staff creates courses, sets up and manages the publishing workflow, tags content with metadata, manages the copyright status of content, and ultimately publishes the faculty's work to the MIT OCW Web site. All of these processes are part of our Publication Process, which can be followed on this flowchart:

MIT OCW publication process graphic

MIT OCW's content lifecycle starts with the recruitment of faculty and the collection of their course materials. Our pipeline plan identifies target department, faculty, and courses for publication, and then our Publication Managers set up an initial meeting with the individual faculty member, where we specify which content the faculty wish to publish on their MIT OCW site and obtain intellectual property (IP) signoff from the faculty.

The next step in content lifecycle is course planning, including assigning the course to a publication cycle, and the beginning of the IP review and clearance process.

In building the actual course Web site, the MIT OCW Publication Managers perform a number of functions, including:

  • Review course specifications 
  • Retrieve course documents
  • "Scrub" source documents of MIT-specific contextual information and copyright information
  • Convert documents into PDF format, where appropriate 
  • Make documents Web accessible
  • Upload files to the MIT OCW content management system (CMS)
  • Build the course site in the CMS environment
  • Capture metadata and copyright information, and update IP status
  • QA content
  • QA metadata and IP

The course then goes through a rigorous final QA of the content, with the MIT faculty having final signoff on their final course Web site. Once a course is published, the course transitions into the maintenance/support mode where MIT OCW staff update the course content (spelling errors, replacements, broken links, etc.), and respond to user queries about the course content, forwarding selected emails to the faculty when appropriate.