MIT Open Courseware

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MIT Open Courseware was first created in 2001 and is praised for it’s well-made and accessible courses. However, that is the main focus: courses that a person can walk though to teach themselves subjects taught at MIT and beyond. Some of the material from these courses are free, but not all of them have textbooks and not all are open.

While hunting through the site, I specifically looked for courses with online textbooks, which is the most narrowing that one can do when looking for books. I clicked through some courses and the books looked substantial, but the best ones have a separate menu heading for “Textbook.” Those without tend to be smaller, but often a decent size for the material. Some have integrated Java applets, which can not be downloaded simply into a pdf.

There about 20 actual open textbooks on the site, and they are not spread across the subjects evenly, with most of them in the engineering section. The resource is decent, but not good for a widespread approach to using open textbooks.

Website Category Rating (1-5 Stars) Comments
Ease of Use 3stars  Site is fairly easy to navigate, it would be nice to see all the topics at the same time instead of having to pick a subject first.
Truly Free 2stars  Many of the textbooks required for courses require purchasing
Quality Picture1  The quality of the books is good, many are full textbooks.
Offering 2stars  Books are heavily focused on science and math even though there are humanities and social sciences sections. There are few (if any) textbooks in other fields.
Books Category Rating (1-5 Stars) Comments
Size Appropriate 3stars Most are size appropriate for the courses that do have online textbooks that can be downloaded.
Proofreading Picture1 Books are well-proofed.
Reviewed 2stars Books are not reviewed, but created by the professors of MIT.
Supplemental Material (answers to problems, glossary, index) 3stars Some books do have supplemental material that includes answers to problems and references.

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