Always wanted to get a top notch education, but couldn’t afford the fees? Now you can do so with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s intitiative called OpenCourseWare. As of January 2007, over 1800 college courses are available online and available to anyone with Internet access – for free.
With MIT’s Open Course Ware you won’t be accredited a degree, but you will have access to all the materials offered to MIT students which ranges from course outlines and reading lists, lecture notes, previous exams and interactive web demonstrations, to complete textbooks and even streaming video lectures.
Can’t find the course you wanted or MIT’s not the school of your choice? Then check out the Consortium for OpenCourseWare, which works to advance education and empower people worldwide. The Consortium lists all the schools participating in the initiative worldwide. A quick scan lists Harvard Law School, Paris Tech Graduate School and a whole slew of Japanese universities which belong to the Japanese OpenCourseWars Consortium as members. Online Courses boasts a search engine that finds free online courses from leading universities like Yale, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and many others.
It’s a great idea. Most learning at the university level is done by the individual him/herself anyway. And not only do these programs benefit students, they benefit educators too. From the consortium’s web site:
- Advances knowledge by unlocking information for the benefit of all
- Provides open access to high-quality educational content to educators and learners for whom the materials can make the most difference
- Provides a model demonstrating the value of openness
- Builds global awareness of your institution’s unique educational approach and curriculum
- Improves recruitment by helping the right students find the right programs at your institution
- Provides a resource for your students, faculty and alumni that supports learning and collaboration
- Builds awareness of your unique contributions to your field
- Fosters connections with colleagues around the world
- Preserves a record of teaching innovations and allows others to build upon them
So far it’s been a great success. Steve Carson, an external relations officer for MIT OCW, had this to say.
“The whole point was an act of intellectual philanthropy. We’ve been overwhelmed with the response it has gotten. We’re getting about 2 million visits per month…Fifteen percent are faculty users, 30 (percent) are users at other institutions, and half are self-learners and are professionals in their fields, young kids, retirees. It has a wider appeal than we first imagined.”
Aww. Win-win. And that is really nice.
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