Bill Gates on OpenCourseWare
Forbes magazine is carrying a commentary piece by Bill Gates on the educational challanges we face in the 21st century, which mentions MIT OpenCourseWare very prominently:
…technology can provide many of the tools needed to begin to tackle the challenge of scale. The combination of software, broadband networks and powerful, affordable devices is making it possible to put high-quality educational resources into the hands of any teacher or student who has access to basic technology infrastructure and tools. The unique ability of technology to enable today’s limited educational resources to scale quickly and affordably across great distances to a great many people makes it an essential ingredient in our efforts to transform education.
MIT’s OpenCourseware Initiative is an exciting example of how technology can help make great educational materials scale. Through the OpenCourseware Web site, lecture notes, exams and other resources for more than 1,800 MIT classes are available online for free. Developed by professors at one of the world’s great universities, these materials used to be available to only a small handful of students. Now, anyone, anywhere in the world, can access them, and on average more than 1 million people visit the site every month…
It’s of course wonderful to have someone so respected in both the business and philanthropic communities providing visibility to the project. His comments don’t capture the full energy of the OpenCourseWare/Open Educational Resources movement, but hopefully attention drawn to us will drive attention to all the other great projects as well. I also like that he points out that technology can enable educational change, but is not sufficient:
Of course, technology by itself is not the answer to all the issues we face in our efforts to live up to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There are significant social, cultural and institutional challenges that must be overcome as well. Technology must be implemented as part of a thoughtful, holistic approach to education transformation that includes teacher training, relevant curricula, parental involvement and programs for children that fill unmet needs for basics like nutrition and health care.
One of the things I enjoy most about my work is the exposure on a daily basis to amazing people from all walks of life devoting their talents and energies to addressing all of these challenges. It’s something that allows me to maintain a level of optimism about our future.