Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I got a letter today from a total stranger. It didn't surprise me because I get a letter like this probably once or twice a week. It reads:

Dear Sirs,
Iam very in terested to get your open course ware, then I will need a credit, please make me know about it. how it works.
[name withheld]

The name is foreign, and to me sound African. I hear from a lot of people telling me how much they appreciate the material we have on our site, People want credit, and I get probably 30-40 requests a year for it. It seems like if we could somehow easily offer credit or a certificate, OpenCourseWare could become sustainable. We're never going to find a lot of people in Africa to pay full tuition, but if there was some alternative means of accreditation, it seems like as the word got out, it is not inconceivable that we'd at least be able to bring in enough to keep the servers online. As it now stands, the future of the site is in question.

There was a lot of fear in the beginning that if we gave away our content, nobody would want to come to our university. The exact opposite is the case. We gave away our content, and now we have more interest in our school than ever before. We just don't have a model in place to deal with the new demand.

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