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Summary of OpenWetWare's beginnings

  • Started in the Endy and Knight labs as a means of recording and sharing useful information.
  • Permitted a new venue to communicate and collaborate with others about research ideas and projects.
  • By placing courses on OpenWetWare, we hope to
    1. integrate courses more tightly with the research community
    2. give students an equal opportunity in course content generation

Quick tour of OpenWetWare


Why use OpenWetWare for courses when Stellar and OpenCourseWare are already available (and work well!)

  1. OpenWetWare permits students to play an equal role as faculty and TA's in contributing to class content. After all, a major strength of MIT is the students!
  2. Lack of hierarchy allows the site to put up as much useful information as they see fit. For example, student results from experiments, comments on protocols, feedback on homework questions, students' class notes. This other information can be useful for others in education and research and available in an open way.
  3. Course content is more amenable to editing. Since the course material is posted in a form that is easy to edit online (rather than word documents or pdfs), collaborative improvements to course content are made much easier.

Experiences to date in BE.109

Observations from the use of OpenWetWare in BE.109


  1. Having course content on OpenWetWare enables professors and TA's to update materials more easily and more often.
  2. Some students feel comfortable making substantial edits to course pages.
  3. Students can catch and correct typos. See this fix
  4. Students can comment on course content. See Talk:BE.109:DNA engineering/Examine candidate clones.
  5. Students can post their own class notes. See User:Yeem/BE.180 notes/3-16.


  1. Course content can be more difficult to navigate. (OWW lacks the consistency of organization that OCW and Stellar have).
  2. Instructors and students must become familiar with wiki editing (this is generally straightforward to do but sometimes presents a barrier).
  3. Course content can be edited "on the fly" which can lead to problems if students view previous iterations of material.

How OpenWetWare and OpenCourseWare might interact?

Brainstorming ways that OpenWetWare and OpenCourseWare might synergistically interact.

  1. Can a static version of course sites be archived on OpenCourseWare?
  2. Can wiki-like pages be incorporated into OpenCourseWare?
  3. Advice about recruiting and retaining new users?
  4. BE.109
    • Natalie Kuldell would like to put BE.109 on OCW. However, there are some logistical issues such as how to capture offline materials and frequency of updates.