Search Open Courses from Top Universities Via API

Tomas Vitvar
Aug. 10 2010, 11:59AM EDT

OCWSearch, the search engine for OpenCourseWare courses, has launched a search API. With courses from major universities such as MIT, Stanford or Yale, OCWSearch API now lets you search the full index and get information about course title, date, description or names of instructors.

The API is very simple to use: you specify a search request in the URL query string parameters and you receive a JSON result back. The first version of the OCWSearch API already supports advanced search queries. For example, you can specify exact word searches, exclude words from your search results, or search for specific instructors or institutions. OCWSearch API documentation and advanced search help explain how you can write these queries.

For example, to search for courses with "Java" in their description:
www.ocwsearch.com/api/v1/search.json?q=java&contact=yourcontacthere

Or, to search for courses at Stanford Engineering Everywhere:
www.ocwsearch.com/api/v1/search.json?q=institution:stanford&contact=yourcontacthere

When you use the API in your application, you are strongly encouraged to cache the results. OCWSearch index gets updated once per 1 or 2 weeks, thus your query will always return the same results in the meantime. OCWSearch does not impose any hard limits on the number of queries you can run. You should, however, provide contact details in each request (such as the URL to your application's about page) so that the OCWSearch team can contact you in case your application overloads the search engine.

The availability of the OCWSearch API (one of 19 education APIs) will significantly improve OpenCourseWare integration with third-party applications. For example, Boxee media center and its OpenCourseWare plugin can now use this API to run advanced searches and filter courses by title, institutions or instructor names as well as display structured course details.

Tomas Vitvar

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