As President Obama announces new focus on STEM education, OCW initiative reaches milestone
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., December 9, 2009 - As President Obama announces the new federal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education initiative "Educate to Innovate", MIT OpenCourseWare's own STEM initiative, Highlights for High School, celebrates its one millionth visit. President Obama's initiative calls for a national campaign to raise American students "from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math over the next decade."
Launched in 2007, Highlights for High School is intended to do just that. The site features more than 2,600 video and audio clips, animations, lecture notes and assignments taken from actual MIT courses, and categorizes them to match the Advanced Placement physics, biology and calculus curricula. Demonstrations, simulations, and animations give educators engaging ways to present STEM concepts, while videos illustrate MIT's hands-on approach to the teaching of these subjects.
MIT President Susan Hockfield described the Institute's motivation for the program at its November 2007 launch. "Strength in K-12 math and science will be increasingly important for America if the nation is to continue to lead in today's innovation economy," said MIT President Hockfield. "Highlights for High School will provide students and teachers with innovative tools to supplement their math and science studies. We hope it will inspire students to reach beyond their required classwork to explore more advanced material and might also encourage them to pursue careers in science and engineering."
More than one million visits-or user sessions-have been recorded on the site from an estimated 800,000 individuals, primarily high school educators and students. Top visitor groups include high school educators (34%), high school students (15.5%), and parents of high schoolers (13%). In using the site, educators most often integrate Highlights for High School into classroom instruction, increase their knowledge of a specific subject matter, and learn new methods of teaching. Students use the site to help them study for tests and to learn for personal knowledge.
MIT has a long history of support for secondary and elementary education, with successful prior national efforts. For example, the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) formed in 1956 by a group of university physics professors and high school physics teachers, and led by MIT's Jerrold Zacharias and Francis Friedman developed new pedagogies for the teaching of introductory courses in physics. MIT also has over 50 successful current K-12 programs and initiatives addressing science and engineering preparation at a local and national level.
MIT OpenCourseWare, from which Highlights for High School draws content, contains the core academic materials for more than 1,950 of MIT's courses, voluntarily provided by MIT faculty under an open license that allows site users to download and modify the materials for noncommercial use. The site contains notes from more than 1,750 lectures, 9,500 assignments, and 980 exams. Many courses include enhanced multimedia content, including 33 that contain complete video recordings of course lectures.