RE: MIT Free

From: Meltsner, Kenneth (
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 16:08:06 PDT

Having been involved with Project Athena at MIT, sadly I have to agree. There are other issues of course:

* No one gets tenure for course materials

* No one gets tenure (or paid) for maintenance

* Software is a lot harder than scribbling stuff on a chalkboard

When I completed the software Athena had paid me to develop, there wasn't anyone to give it to. These days, I'd set up a Web site, I suppose, but back then, Athena was too busy trying to develop system software, having realized that no one would be able to develop courseware without a common workstation platform to deploy it on. I'm hoping the infrastructure can be taken as a "given" now, but back then, the software and hardware issues were much, much larger than the educational ones.

Ken Meltsner

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Whitehead []
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2001 1:14 PM
To: FoRK
Subject: RE: MIT Free

It'll be interesting to see how this turns out. Putting course materials on
the Web often involves more work for the Professor (an unpopular move).
Then there are copyright issues surrounding things like course readers
(collections of copyrighted papers put together for the course). As well,
putting video online will be *very* expensive, requiring a very buff server
farm and a big honkin pipe, to be paid for out of overhead (another
unpopular activity), with no revenues offsetting the costs. Additionally,
will Professors be required to answer emails from random people on the net
concerning their course materials?

Sure, it's a good marketing move, but execution is going to be time
consuming and costly. It'll require significant dedication to do this well.

- Jim

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