MENLO PARK, Calif. – Five hundred courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now available for free online, thanks to a joint project by the Hewlett Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and MIT. The MIT OpenCourseWare project provides free, searchable access to MIT’s course materials for educators, students, and self-learners around the world. This extraordinary project is also creating an efficient, standards-based model that other institutions can use to openly share and publish their own course materials.

“The OpenCourseWare project is quite simply revolutionary,” said Mike Smith, Education Program Director at the Hewlett Foundation. “In the best spirit of education, MIT is literally giving this information away. Course materials contained on OpenCourseWare site may be used, copied, distributed, translated, and modified by anyone, anywhere in the world.”

With early funding from Hewlett and Mellon, the site opened to the public in September 2002, offering 32 courses. The international benefits to the project have been immediate-the site has received almost 120 million hits from visitors in more than 200 countries over the course of the last year. Materials have already been translated into at least ten different languages.

MIT OCW makes the educational materials that are used in almost all MIT undergraduate and graduate courses taught in the Institute’s five schools-the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Science; and the Sloan School of Management-available for free on the Web to any user anywhere in the world. This venture continues the tradition at MIT, and in U.S. higher education, of open dissemination of educational materials, philosophy, and modes of thought.