Web Site Is Building a Searchable Index of Open Courseware

The owner of a new Web site wants his search engine to become an easy way to comb through the open courseware of many colleges.

About 1,800 courses, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are indexed on OCW Search for starters, says the operator, Pierre Far. Polling on the Web site, which went online this week, will determine what courses to add next; those at Stanford University are in the lead, and Mr. Far plans to add them in the next few days.

Mr. Far, who is not affiliated with a college, said he created OCW Search after looking for  online material for statistics. He browsed open-courseware Web sites and downloaded some courses, finding some that were useful and others that weren’t.

 ”This combination of having to browse each university’s course collection separately and then having to read through the contents of each course before finding those directly relevant is why I thought a search engine would be helpful,” Mr. Far said in an e-mail message to The Chronicle.

OCW Search downloads the contents of each course and indexes its text. That allows for descriptions more detailed than those available through Google searches.

Other ways to sift through open courseware are also out there, including OCW Finder, the OpenCourseWare Consortium, and the Online Education Database collection.

Know of any good ways to search for classes available via open courseware? Have opinions on the options that already exist? Post them below or send us a tip through Twitter, @wiredcampus.

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