cation for developing nations, UNESCO’s deputy assistant director general for communication and information stated (UNESCO, 2002):
Knowledge has become a principal force of social transformation. Knowledge-based and -led development holds the promise that many of the problems confronting human societies could be significantly alleviated if only the requisite information and expertise were systematically and equitably employed and shared.
The Internet opens the possibility of equalizing access throughout the world to great slices of knowledge—to inhabitants of the smallest village in Africa, to citizens of the poorest cities in developing nations, and to recent Mexican immigrants in the United States.
Access to high-quality educational content is varied. Students and instructors in Berkeley or Swarthmore do not have easy access to many library collections at Harvard or to the way that a leading physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) structures her graduate seminar. Such content is far less accessible in nonelite colleges and universities throughout the United States and institutions in almost all developing nations. Similar disparities in access occur among K-12 schools in the United States. Moreover, much of the educational content now available through technology at the K-12 and postsecondary level is of poor educational quality, difficult to access, or too expensive for many to afford.
Several recent changes have opened the door to a more general strategy for improving access for all to high-quality content. These changes include the bursting of the dot.com bubble, which convinced many that it was not easy to make money on the web, the steps taken by many to place collections of educational materials on the web, and the giant leap taken by MIT to make all of its courseware available to all on the web for free in perpetuity.1 A number of studies are currently being carried out to investigate the use and effects of the MIT initiative. If high-quality content and materials (courses, modules, learning objects, library collections, etc.) were available on the web and open to all for use and reuse, some of the gap in access to knowledge could, in theory, be overcome. In fact, a number of universities and others have set off down the road of attempting to make substantial bodies of content available in ways that have never been available in the past.
One project systematically backs up the entire World Wide Web six times a year, archives the information, and makes it publicly available at www.archive.org. Carnegie Mellon is developing a suite of stand-alone academic courses that use a cognitive tutor approach, based on current cognitive science.2 The courses will be free to all on the web. In addition,