FAQ: Technology

What are the technical requirements for viewing MIT OpenCourseWare course materials?

I have downloaded an MIT OpenCourseWare course, but I can't access the materials. After decompressing the zip file, exactly what are the steps that follow?

Is it possible to save the RealPlayer video files to a disk or to my hard drive?

Is the MIT OpenCourseWare site compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?

What information does MIT OpenCourseWare collect from visitors to the Web site?

What technology is used to publish the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site?


What are the technical requirements for viewing MIT OpenCourseWare course materials?
To best view and use the site, MIT OpenCourseWare has adopted the following guidelines:

  • Our site works on the Macintosh, Unix, and Windows platforms.
  • Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections, such as 28.8 kbps modems, should allow users to view most materials on the sites; however, downloading materials will take a longer period of time.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare has tested the site with the following browsers:
    • Internet Explorer version 6.0+ (Windows)
    • Safari version 1.2.2+ (Mac OSX)
    • Firefox 1.0+ (all platforms)
    • Mozilla 1.7+ (all platforms)
  • Some special content file types require specialize software to use; an extensive list is included on the MIT OpenCourseWare Technical Requirements page.

I have downloaded an MIT OpenCourseWare course, but I can't access the materials. After decompressing the zip file, exactly what are the steps that follow?
OpenCourseWare zipped file downloads contain the same documents that are in the web version of an OCW course. The value of the download is that you can review the OpenCourseWare materials on your computer even when you're not online.

  • Unzip the course package with decompression software such as WinZip or StuffIt. Windows will let you navigate into a zip file, but the links will not work.
  • Navigate into the unzipped folder, until you find the Welcome.htm file.
  • Open the Welcome.htm file in your browser and you will be redirected to the offline version of the MIT OpenCourseWare course.

You may need to download file decompression software, such as WinZip or StuffIt, to open the zip file.

The XML files within the package contain metadata used in the packaging and in some external systems; you do not need to access these files when browsing a course offline.

Please note that audio, video, and some other special files are not included in the download zip package in order to keep these files a manageable size. You can download these files through links provided in the course. Some audio and video lectures are also available through MIT's iTunes U site.


Is it possible to save the RealPlayer video files to a disk or to my hard drive?
You can download our streaming video files if you prefer to play these files off-line. MIT OpenCourseWare video files stored on the Akamai network will have URLs that look something like this:

http://mfile.akamai.com/7870/rm/mitstorage.download.akamai.com/ 7870/18/18.06/videolectures/strang-1806-lec01-26aug1999-220k.rm

  • You can find the the URL for the video you want by right-clicking on the link and selecting “Copy Link Location…” (ctrl-click on a Mac).
  • Remove the entire first part of the URL:
    http://mfile.akamai.com/7870/rm/mitstorage.download.akamai.com/7870
  • Add http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870 instead. This will be the link to download the RealMedia file. It will look something like this:
    http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/18/18.06/videolectures/strang-1806-lec01-26aug1999-220k.rm
  • Make sure you Save the file to a convienent location like your Documents or Video folder.

Please note that some of our courses are available for download from iTunes U.


Is the MIT OpenCourseWare site compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?
The templates we designed for our content management system (CMS) are both valid HTML 4.01 and meet Sec. 508 & WCAG AA Web Accessibility recommendations. Our style guide has been revised to include validating and checking the accessibility of HTML as part of the authoring process. Our standards require all images to contain ALT attributes. Our data tables contain heavy use of the scope and headers attributes that make it easier to navigate using screenreaders such as JAWS.

We spend a lot of time on the accessibility of PDFs. As part of our conversion process we remove any PDFs using Type 3 or bitmapped fonts. We use Adobe's "Make Accessible" plugin before finalizing the document. We work closely with the MIT Adaptive Technology for Information and Computing Lab to ensure that the MIT OpenCourseWare course sites are as accessible as possible.


What information does MIT OpenCourseWare collect from visitors to the Web site?
The information we collect from visitors helps us improve the MIT OpenCourseWare site, and assists us in evaluating the access, use, and impact of MIT OpenCourseWare on the worldwide educational community. MIT OpenCourseWare collects the following information from visitors:

  • Information You Provide: We receive and store any information you enter on the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site or give us in any other way. You provide most such information when you submit feedback on the site, contact us by e-mail, or agree to participate in a visitor survey. This information may include your name and e-mail address, your academic status, your institution, your geographic region, how you are using MIT OpenCourseWare, and what you think of the site. In all cases, any information you provide is strictly optional and voluntary, and you may choose to use the MIT OpenCourseWare site without ever providing this information. If you voluntarily provide your e-mail address or other contact information, we will not share personal information with anyone without first requesting your explicit permission to do so.
  • Automatic Information: We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with the MIT OpenCourseWare site. Like many web sites, we make use of "cookies," and we obtain certain types of information when your browser accesses our site. Examples of the information we collect and analyze include the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the MIT OpenCourseWare site; computer and connection information such as browser type and version, operating system, and platform, and; content you viewed or searched for during your visit to MIT OpenCourseWare. During some visits we may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors, and length of visits to certain pages. If your browser is configured to not accept cookies, you will still enjoy full access to all MIT OpenCourseWare content. However, none of this information is personally identifiable or linked back to you individually.
  • E-mail Communications: We maintain a list of interested visitors who voluntarily provide their e-mail addresses and to whom we e-mail the monthly "MIT OpenCourseWare Update" e-mail newsletter, and other infrequent e-mail announcements pertaining to MIT OpenCourseWare.

What technology is used to publish the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site?
The MIT OpenCourseWare technology solution supports a complex publishing process. This large-scale digital publishing infrastructure consists of planning tools, a content management system (CMS), and the MIT OpenCourseWare content distribution infrastructure. The current technical solution has been in use since April 2003 with a technical support team managing all aspects of this infrastructure.

The planning tools used by the MIT OpenCourseWare team to assist faculty in publishing their course materials include a custom application of FileMaker Pro, and several checklists and documents. For creating and managing content, we use several desktop tools (file conversion tools) as well as the CMS, a customized version of Microsoft Content Management Server 2002 that supports our publishing process. Our content delivery infrastructure includes a sophisticated publishing engine, content staging server, and a content delivery network utilizing Akamai's EdgeSuite platform.

For more information on the MIT OpenCourseWare publishing environment or technology, please contact MIT OpenCourseWare.