In the true spirit of Open Source, MIT has made a broad selection of its course work available via MIT OpenCourseWare, a free educational resource for people around the world. According to the Web site, "OCW supports MIT's mission to advance knowledge and education, and serve the world in the 21st century. It is true to MIT's values of excellence, innovation, and leadership."
While the resource is non-degree-granting and does not provide direct access to MIT's famed faculty, I applaud their efforts at making syllabi, lecture notes, course calendars, problem sets and solutions, exams, reading lists, even a selection of video lectures available to self-learners around the world. With 1,250 courses published as of December 2005, the long-term goal is to include nearly all of its undergraduate and graduate course materials by 2007. For the Discussion Forums, MIT has partnered with the Open Sustainable Learning Opportunities Research Group in the Department of Instructional Technology at Utah State University. OSLO is a research project focused on building "social software" that enables informal learning communities to form around existing open educational content.
Of particular interest to me are their courses in Comparative Media Studies, an "examination of media technologies and their cultural, social, aesthetic, political, ethical, legal, and economic implications." Courses explore the cultural transition from analog to digital media, the use of technology and media in social constructs like education and war, and how images have shaped the identity of people and cultures, among others.
Stay tuned for more on this topic, as Jeremi and I are toying with the idea of building a companion weblog to document a self-learning experience in this space.