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This document provides the help for the Help OpenCourseWare site in the form of a list of frequently asked questions and answers. If you have other questions about this site please use the feedback form.

About Portal OCW

  1. What is Portal OpenCourseWare?

    The idea behind Portal OCW is to make Portal course materials that are used in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. Portal OCW will advance technology-enhanced education at Portal, and will serve as a model for university dissemination of knowledge in the Internet age. This venture continues the tradition at Portal, and in American higher education, of open dissemination of educational materials, philosophy, and modes of thought, and will help lead to fundamental changes in the way colleges and universities utilize the Web as a vehicle for education.


  2. Why is Portal doing this?

    Because technology makes it possible for us to increase the reach of educational opportunity, we have a moral obligation to do so. Portal OCW supports Portal's mission to serve the public through learning, discovery, and engagement, and is true to Portal's guiding principle that academics come first. As Portal enters the 21st century, services like OpenCourseWare enable it to more fully accomplish its land grant mission. Portal OCW contributes to the "shared intellectual commons" in academia, which fosters collaboration across Portal and among other scholars across disciplines and around the world.


  3. How does Portal OCW differ from other types of Web-based education, including distance learning?

    Portal OCW differs from other Portal Web-based education offerings in that it is free and open, does not provide university credit, and grants no access to university faculty. Portal OCW is not a distance-learning initiative. Distance learning involves the active exchange of information between faculty and students, with the goal of obtaining some form of a credential. Increasingly, distance learning is also limited to those willing and able to pay for materials or course delivery. Portal OCW is not meant to replace degree-granting higher education or for-credit courses. Rather, the goal is to provide the content that supports an education.

    Many individual faculty members at Portal and other universities already use the Web extensively to make standard course materials available to their students. Some colleges and universities now require a Web site for every class. But, to a large extent, these Web sites are designed for, and access is only provided to, the students enrolled at these institutions. Portal OCW is an unprecedented effort of a much broader magnitude, as the goal is to provide the course materials free and open to the world.


  4. What are the long-term goals of the Portal OCW initiative?

    We expect Portal OCW to grow to encompass the course materials of all faculty who are willing to participate. Over time, the goal is for most of the courses offered at Portal to be represented in the collection. Another goal of Portal OCW is to catalyze the development of groups or communities around the course materials. Individuals participating in these informal groups will coach, mentor, and support each other in their learning, adding significant value to the materials themselves. Finally, we strongly desire to extend the reach and impact of the "opencourseware" concept.


  5. Will Portal OCW always be free and openly available to anyone in the world?

    We are committed to Portal OCW remaining a free and openly available publication of the course materials that support the dynamic classroom interactions of a Portal education. Even as we continue to grow and evolve, the materials will always remain free and open to all. Along with this commitment to remaining free and open, Portal OCW is also committed to the idea that Portal OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, and that there will not be a registration process required for users to view course materials now or in the future. Portal OCW is working hard to publish all of the Portal faculty's course materials who wish to participate.


Using Portal OCW Materials

  1. Do I need to register to use Portal OCW course materials?

    Because Portal OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, there is no registration process required for users to view course materials. Portal OCW is a publication of the course materials that support the dynamic classroom interactions of an Portal education. Portal OCW is available on the Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world.


  2. Where are the course materials?

    To find what courses are available at this time, view the complete course list. Once you have accessed a particular course site, the left-hand navigation bar of each course homepage will detail what materials are available for that individual course.


  3. How do I find what courses are available?

    You can, utilize the Search function that can be found in the right-hand corner of every page on the Portal OCW site. You can search for specific text, such as certain academic discipline area, across all courses or within just one course. Or to perform a detailed search, use our Advanced Search.

    Or, to see what courses are available is to click on Courses in the top navigation bar on every page of the Portal OCW Web site. This will allow you to view the list of courses available at this time.


  4. How can I use Portal OCW course materials?

    Portal OCW can be considered a large-scale, Web-based publication of the course materials that support an Portal education. Educators are encouraged to utilize the materials for curriculum development, students can augment their current learning by making use of the materials offered, and self-learners are encouraged to draw upon the Portal OCW for self-study or supplementary use. Course materials offered on the Portal OCW Web site may be used within the license associated with the content, course or overall Portal site as applicable.


  5. What are the prerequisites to use Portal OCW materials?

    Because Portal OCW is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, there is no registration process required for users to view course materials. There are also no prerequisites for users who utilize Portal OCW course materials in their own learning. However, each course site indicates the prerequisites and corequisites that are required of Portal students.


  6. Does Portal OCW offer discounts on textbooks or software applications utilized in the course materials?

    Portal OCW does not sell, offer vendor discounts for, or represent any vendor who may sell the software, books, or other materials that users of Portal OCW may require to understand the course materials offered on the Portal OCW Web site.


  7. How do I get a copy of the course pack for a particular Portal course?

    The course-pack materials that accompany most Portal courses often contain proprietary information and copyrighted materials that Portal Faculty only use in their classroom interactions with Portal students. These materials are not available, nor will they be in the future, to Portal OCW users.


  8. I have seen (or I am/represent) an individual, organization, or institution that offers to teach Portal courses or tutor students based on Portal materials. Does Portal approve or recognize such individuals or organizations?

    No, Portal has no relationship with, grants no special permission to, and does not approve, endorse, or certify any organizations, teachers, tutors, or other service providers who use educational materials available on the Portal OCW Web site in connection with their services. Except for students admitted to Portal, Portal does not authorize the granting of any kind of degree, certificate, or other recognition for participation in or completion of any course of study based on or using published Portal course materials.


  9. Can I/my organization state on our Web site or in our literature that we make use of Portal OCW course materials?

    To reference Portal OCW you must comply with the terms of the license associated with Portal OCW and/or the specific course materials. Typically you must you must give credit to Portal and the faculty author of the course materials anytime you use Portal OCW materials. For your convenience, each Portal OCW page includes a citation appropriate for the page at the bottom of the content. However, any reference to Portal (including the Portal name in any of its forms or Portal seals or logos) that deliberately or inadvertently claims, suggests, or in Portal's sole judgment gives the appearance or impression of a relationship with or endorsement by Portal, is prohibited.

    [See also Intellectual Property]


  10. Can I link to the Portal OCW Web site from my Web site?

    Links to Portal OCW or to courses or pages within the Portal OCW Web site are permitted so long as the use of the materials associated with the link is permitted under the terms of the license associated with the course materials or particlar content. Typically course materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license 2.5, however individual course materials may have a separate license. Please check the bottom of the page to view the applicable license for any particular item. For your convenience, each Portal OCW page includes a citation appropriate for the page at the bottom of the content.

    In addition to meeting the terms of the license, links to Portal OCW are permitted as long as the link is freely accessible (e.g., no restrictions or fee for access); and there is no claim, appearance, or implication of an affiliation with or endorsement by Portal. Portal OCW cannot guarantee the persistence of any specific link other than those to the Portal OCW homepage.

    [See also Intellectual Property]



  1. Why is there such variation in the breadth and depth of content presented on individual Portal OCW course Web sites?

    Each Portal OCW course Web site is developed individually with the participating faculty and instructors. It includes as much of the Portal faculty member's course materials as is available in a digital format, or can be cost-effectively prepared; and is free of Intellectual Property and copyright restrictions. Portal faculty and instructors participate only voluntarily, and publish only as much content as they are comfortable having on a Web site that is freely accessible worldwide.


  2. Why do some Portal OCW course sites lack solutions to assignments, quizzes, and exams?

    In some cases, solutions to homework assignments, quizzes, and exams are only discussed and presented in the classroom, and not made available in print or electronic format to the Portal students--or to the worldwide community of visitors to the Portal OCW Web site. In other cases, the instructors plan to re-use in their Portal classroom the assignments, quizzes, and exams, and so they do not wish to widely publish their solutions.


  3. Why doesn't every Portal OCW course offer video lectures?

    Although video lectures are useful for students, there are many reasons that Portal OCW does not include video lectures in every course. First is the issue of bandwidth. We are very much focused on making Portal's courses materials as accessible as possible to users all over the world, including the developing world. If we were to start depending on the video component as THE key element of every Portal OCW course, we would be excluding a large portion of the Portal OCW audience who are not using high-speed Internet connections. They would never be able to download the videos and we are very sensitive to that fact.

    Another key concern about video is cost. The technology for compressing and storing video becomes more and more affordable by the day, but it is still not affordable, or feasible from a production standpoint, for us to be compressing 20 video lectures for all of our courses. Portal OCW does not have that kind of storage capacity, at this time.

    A key Portal OCW audience is educators, and for them, we are hoping that by providing the syllabus, reading lists and lecture notes, we are offering a chance for them to jumpstart their own pedagogy and improve the way they teach their chosen discipline. While video lectures are very easy for people with fast Internet connections to watch, they do not really fulfill the mission of Portal OCW.


Intellectual Property

  1. Who owns the intellectual property published on the Portal OCW Web site?

    Prior to making any course materials publicly available, the Portal OCW team has reviewed all material extensively to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material openly available on the Web. We will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others [See also What do I do if I believe a portion of Portal OCW material infringes my copyright?].

    The intellectual property policies created for Portal OCW are clear and consistent with other policies for scholarly materials used in education. Faculty retain ownership of most materials prepared for Portal OCW. Portal retains ownership only when significant use has been made of the Institute's resources. If student course work is placed on the Portal OCW site, then copyright in the work remains with the student.


  2. What are the Terms of Use for Portal OCW users?

    See the Terms of Use for more information.

    If you would like to use Portal OCW course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact us using the feedback page.


  3. What are the Terms of Use for the discussion software?

    See the Terms of Use for more information.

  4. How does Portal define non-commercial use?

    A commercial use would involve the assessment of a direct or indirect fee for use of the Portal OCW materials, or any derivation or modification of the Portal OCW material, or any other commercial exploitation of Portal OCW materials. All uses, reuse, and distribution of Portal OCW material, including works derived from Portal OCW material, must be attributed to Portal OCW and to the original authors where identified on the Portal OCW materials you distribute. If you would like to use Portal OCW course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact us using the feedback link at the top of the page.


  5. How do I properly cite my reuse of Portal OCW materials?

    To reuse or repost materials from Portal OCW, confirm that the license allows for the use you intend. If the license permits reuse, you must give proper attribution to the original Portal faculty author(s).

    For your convenience, at the bottom of each page, we provide a citation in APA format, a copyright statement and a license for that page.

    Or you may chose to cite the resource in the following manner: "This material was created by or adapted from material created by Portal faculty member, (Name), (Title), (Year). Copyright © (Year), (Faculty Member's Name)."

    As an example, the citation for "Understanding Online Interaction" taught by Utah State University Professor David Wiley would read, "This material was created or adapted from material created by Utah State University faculty member David Wiley, Associate Professor. Copyright © 2004, David Wiley."

    If you want to use the course materials on your Web site, and the materials are licensed using a Creative Commons license, you must also include a copy of the Creative Commons license, or clear and reasonable link to its URL (for example,, with every copy of the materials or the derivative work(s) you create from it.


  6. How can I contribute my own educational materials to Portal OCW?

    The intent of Portal OCW is that our Web site should reflect the course materials for what is being taught at Portal. The reason for this policy is that the materials presented on the Portal OCW site are authored by members of the Portal Faculty, and thus, our faculty will take final responsibility for these materials. It would be difficult for Portal OCW to guarantee the accuracy and originality of materials we received from outside sources. However, we encourage other universities to create their own "opencourseware" in which materials from their courses would be posted online and openly shared with the world. Portal OCW is eager to link to other universities or institutions that have similar goals.


  7. What do I do if I believe a portion of Portal OCW material infringes my copyright?

    Portal OCW, prior to making any Portal OCW materials publicly available, has reviewed all material extensively to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material available on Portal OCW. Portal OCW will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others. If you believe that a portion of Portal OCW material infringes on your copyright, please contact us using the feedback page.

    To file the notification, you must be either the copyright owner of the work or an individual authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. Your notification must include:

    1. Identification of the copyrighted work, or, in the case of multiple works at the same location, a representative list of such works at that site.
    2. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity. You must include sufficient information, such as a specific URL or other specific identification, for us to locate the material.
    3. Information for us to be able to contact the claimant (e.g., email address, phone number).
    4. A statement that the claimant believes that the use of the material has not been authorized by the copyright owner or an authorized agent.
    5. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate and that the claimant is, or is authorized to act on behalf of, the copyright owner.

    If you do not include an electronic signature with your claim, you may be asked to send or fax a follow-up copy with a signature.


Portal Faculty

  1. Are Portal faculty required to participate in Portal OCW?

    Participation of Portal faculty in Portal OCW is completely voluntary.


  2. How do I contact a specific member of the Portal Faculty?

    Portal OCW is intended as a publication of Portal course materials on the Web, and not as an interactive experience with Portal faculty. It provides the content of, but is not a substitute for, an Portal education. The most fundamental cornerstone of the learning process at Portal is the interaction between faculty and students in the classroom, and among students themselves on campus. Portal OCW does not offer visitors to the Web site the opportunity for direct contact with Portal faculty, though individual portal faculty may choose to list their contact information. Inquiries related to specific course materials will be forwarded to the Portal faculty member associated with that course for their consideration. However, due to the tremendous volume of email inquiries received, it is unlikely he or she will answer all emails.


  3. Will inquiries to Portal OCW be answered?

    Yes inquiries will be answered. Portal OCW encourages users to provide feedback on the site and the published course materials. The comments and constructive criticism of users will help the Portal OCW staff improve the site and published course materials as we continue to evolve.



  1. Can I translate the course materials in Portal OCW?

    You may translate course materials in Portal OCW if permitted by the license of the course materials you wish to translate. Portal asks that any Portal OCW materials translated into other languages from the original language must be accompanied by the proper attribution of the original materials and include the following disclaimer:

    "These Portal OpenCourseWare course materials have been translated into [YOUR LANGUAGE] by [YOUR INSTITUTION] and Portal OpenCourseWare makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the materials, express or implied, including, without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, or the absence of errors, whether or not discoverable. Portal OpenCourseWare bears no responsibility for any inaccuracies in translation. Any inaccuracies or other defects contained in this material, due to inaccuracies in language translation, are the sole responsibility of [YOUR INSTITUTION] and not Portal OpenCourseWare."
    [See Also How do I properly cite my reuse of Portal OCW materials]



  1. What are the technical requirements for viewing Portal OCW course materials?

    The majority of Portal OCW course sites work in modern Web browsers on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections, such as modems, should allow users to view most materials on the sites (however, downloading or accessing materials may take somewhat longer).


  2. What is metadata and why is it important to Portal OCW?

    Metadata is, literally, "data about data." Metadata can be better understood as information that describes other information. For example, this Web page of FAQs for Portal OCW has an author, a title, a date of creation, and a unique Internet address; this information constitutes the metadata about this page. Metadata enables sophisticated, powerful, and accurate searches across Portal OCW course materials.


  3. How do I change the font-size on the Portal OCW Web site?

    The fonts and style of the Portal OCW Web site have been specifically selected to meet certain design and accessibility standards. The Portal OCW Team has tested the site and these standards across a wide variety of browsers and platform. However, some users may still find that their browser configurations continue to display the text too small. You can change the displayed font size using your browser's View menu. In Netscape 7, there is a "VIEW - Text-Zoom" selection (try 120%). In Netscape 4.x, there is a "VIEW - Increase Font" selection. In Internet Explorer, you can select "VIEW - Text-Size - Larger or Largest." We hope this helps you to more comfortably view the Portal OCW course materials.


  4. Will the Portal OCW Web site be compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?

    All course materials published on the Portal OCW site are checked to see if they are valid XHTML and meet Section 508 and WAI-AA guidelines as part of the authoring process. We require all images to contain ALT attributes and all links to contain TITLE tags.


  5. How can I ensure my content is accessible?

    While there is no automated way to ensure that a piece of content is entirely accessible, you can review and implement, as needed, the accessibility guidelines.


  6. Why does this PDF not open correctly in copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader?

    A small percentage of the PDF documents offered on the Portal OCW Web site may be compatible only with newer versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you would like to view such a file, we recommend downloading the latest version of the Acrobat Reader from the Adobe Web site at


Privacy and Data Collection

  1. What information does Portal OCW collect from visitors to the Web site?

    The information we learn from visitors helps us improve the Portal OCW site, and assists our foundation sponsors in evaluation of usage, access, and impact of Portal OCW on the worldwide educational community. Portal OCW collects the following information from visitors:

    • Information You Provide: We receive and store any information you enter on our Web site or give us in any other way. You provide most such information when you submit feedback on the site, contact us by email, or agree to participate in a visitor survey. This information may include your name and email address, your academic status, your institution, your geographic region, how you are using Portal OCW, and what you think of Portal OCW. In all cases, any information you provide is strictly optional and voluntary and you may choose to use the Portal OCW site without ever providing this information. If you voluntarily provide your email 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 Portal OCW Web site. Examples of the information we collect and analyze include the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the Portal OCW 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 Portal OCW. 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. However, none of this information is personally identifiable or linked back to you individually.

    [See Also Privacy Policy]


  2. What are "cookies," and does Portal OCW make use of cookies on its Web site?

    Portal OCW uses "cookies" in a limited way. Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that this Web site transfers to your computer's hard drive through your Web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser when you make return trips to the site. This allows us to track your use of the site (anonymously), and to analyze patterns in site use, such as repeat visits, length of visits, and breadth of content used, for example). Cookies also allow us to conduct periodic, online, voluntary user surveys where we can gain more insight into what type of people are actually using the site, how they are using the site, and what the educational impact of the site is on these users.

    Portal OCW's use of cookies is designed to be unobtrusive, and we do not collect personally identifiable information through their use. However, if you do not wish to accept cookies, the "Help" portion of the toolbar on most Web browsers will tell you how to prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, how to have the browser notify you when you receive a new cookie, or how to disable cookies altogether. Disabling cookies will in no way affect your access to content on the Portal OCW site. If you leave cookies enabled on your Web browser, you may be asked to complete a brief questionnaire that will help us gain a better understanding of the use and impact of Portal OCW.

    [See Also Privacy Policy]


  3. Does Portal OCW share the information it receives?

    Information about our site visitors is an important part of understanding and extending the impact of Portal OCW in the worldwide academic community. Individual personally identifiable information about users (name, email address, etc) will not be made available to third parties except as outlined below, nor will it ever be used for commercial purposes. We share user information only as described below.

    • Agents: We employ companies and individuals to perform functions on our behalf. Examples include compiling and categorizing user feedback, analyzing survey data or data about your use of the site, and providing customer support. These agents have access to user information needed to perform their functions, for example, but may not use this information for any other purposes. These agents are bound by non-disclosure agreements.
    • Portal OCW Sponsors: We work closely with philanthropic organizations that provide the funding that makes Portal OCW possible. These sponsors are interested in evaluating access, use, and impact of the Portal OCW Web site in order to determine if Portal OCW is achieving its objectives. We will provide information on a regular basis to these sponsors for evaluation purposes. We will not share any personally identifiable information such as name or email address unless you have given us explicit permission to do so.
    • Institutions interested in the "opencourseware movement": Part of Portal OCW's mission as an organization is to encourage other educational institutions to openly share their course materials with the world, as Portal is doing. In order to accomplish this objective, we are committed to sharing what we learn in public forums, at educational conferences, and with other educational institutions. This may include aggregate data about usage of the site, feedback we have received, and the impact of Portal OCW on people throughout the world. However, in no case will we share any personally identifiable information, such as name or email address, unless you have given us explicit permission to do so.

    [See Also Privacy Policy]



  1. What technology is used to publish the Portal OCW Web site?

    Portal OCW runs on the open source eduCommons software. The current technical solution has been in use since January 2005 with a small technical team managing all aspects of this infrastructure at the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning ( at Utah State University.

    The planning tools used by the Portal OCW team to assist faculty in publishing their course materials include a portion of the workflow in eduCommons, and several checklists and documents. For creating and managing content, we use several desktop tools (file conversion tools) as well as eduCommons, that together fully support our publishing process. Our content delivery infrastructure includes a production cluster and a content staging cluster.

    For more information on eduCommons, please contact The Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (


  2. Is Portal OCW an open source project?

    Portal OCW is firmly committed to open systems and will share its approach and the open source eduCommons software with those who may want to launch similar efforts. eduCommons has a dedicated team of developers focused on extending the platform, features and functions to meet Portal OCW and other institution's needs.


  3. What is RSS?

    RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and an aggregator allow you to subscribe to discussion forums, blogs and other websites in order to receive timely, organized updates of posts, news, and other information you care about.


Other Questions

  1. How can I support Portal OCW with a financial donation?

    It is particularly generous of you to offer a financial contribution to support Portal OCW. This is a wonderful endorsement of what we hope to achieve. If you wish to make such a donation, please make your check payable to "Portal" and enclose a note indicating that the contribution is for the Portal OCW Fund. You can mail your check to:
    <Street Address>
    <City, State, Zip>


  2. How do I apply for admission to Portal as a student?

    Portal OCW is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting program. Portal OCW course materials are available for free on the Web for the use of educators and self-learners. Those interested in applying to be full-time students at Portal are encouraged to contact the Admissions Office:
    Office of Admissions
    <Street Address>
    <City, State, Zip>
    <Phone: 999-999-9999>


This material was created or adapted from material created by MIT OCW, Copyright © 2005 MIT in accordance with the MIT OCW Terms of Use,
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource. zope. (2008, May 29). Help. Retrieved January 23, 2018, from Portal de contenidos y cursos abiertos y gratuitos de la Universidad de Murcia Web site: Esta obra se publica bajo una licencia Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License