OpenFiction [Blog]

Better math

Posted in MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenCourseWare, sustainability by scarsonmsm on December 10, 2009

Cross-posting my response to David Wiley’s recent struggles with math on iterating toward openness:

I appreciate you ringing the alarm bells for us, but the math you’ve applied to the Tech article numbers is way off, and I’d hate for the OER community to walk away with the wrong impression. MIT has over time assumed a greater and greater percentage of the cost of OCW, so while historically the grant support is 72% (which includes a major corporate gift as well), it currently covers just south of 40% of our expenses.

We have reserves to cover this part of our budget for FY10-12 as well. And while we have been ramping up our visitor donation campaigns (2 per year + an end of year ask) and visitor donations will be an important part of our sustainability (as they are with other big OER such as Wikipedia), we are certainly not banking on that as the only revenue. If you want to read a better account of MIT OpenCourseWare’s sustainability picture, I suggest

All of which is not to say the MIT OpenCourseWare doesn’t have it’s sustainability challenges.  Clearly we do.  But they are not nealy as dire as David’s post would make them out to be, and they are not a surprise.  We’ve been working with the MIT community for several years to identify the funding approach that is most consistent with the mission and spirit of OCW and the culture of MIT.

I believe it’s time well invested to have a careful community discussion on this issue and am fortunate to see the support for the program at all levels of the community on a daily basis.  It gives me great confidence that we’ll find the right combination soon, and I think it already says a lot that about MIT that in the face of the current economic climate, the Insitute has maintained its commitmment to OCW.

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