Physics Resource of the Day: MIT OpenCourseWare

Nearly a decade ago, MIT elected to begin placing all of its course materials on the web for free in a program called OpenCourseWare. The nitty gritty of that decision can be found in a chapter in this book. The obviousness of this as a tool for independent study is obvious, but I’d like to cover some of the highlights. I’ll be restricting myself to talking about their Physics curriculum, but the same things hold for their other faculties (of most closely related interest would be Mathematics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, etc).

The link to the MIT OCW Physics page is here. One of the most notable aspects of OCW are the video lectures. In addition, all the Physics courses (I believe) have a syllabus that identifies the the main topic of the course, pre-requisites (useful in regards to self study to see what you have to cover first), and a required textbook or supplementary texts (useful for compiling a reading list). In addition, many courses will have lecture notes, problem sets, and sample exams.

What one could do, if one were patient enough (this applies for other departments as well as Physics), would be to go through the list of courses, map out the pre-requisite tree, identify the textbooks they use for their courses, and compile a reading list that would guide you from fundamentals all the way through graduate-level courses. Whether you’re a self-study student or enrolled at a college or university formally, OCW serves as an excellent resource simply as a guide on where to look and what to read (like Isaac Barrow) in addition to its primary study materials. Check it out.

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