Posted December 31, 2007 1:28 pm by with 12 comments

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The web already makes it easier to educate yourself. Now colleges and universities are putting their best classes online and charging nothing for them. Entire lectures are being posted on YouTube (like UC Berekely), iTunes, or on the school’s own web sites.

iTunes U has almost 30 universities participating. The top downloads aren’t lightweights either – #1 is a lecture from MIT physics professor Walter Lewin. He has 37 lectures posted and has become famous for his quirky style.

Not only are the world’s most brilliant thinkers writing blogs, they are on video and podcasts too. This is a renaissance of knowledge that is being viewed by not just students, but ordinary people all over the world. Think of how useful this is for college prep or to study before taking the GMAT or other courses.

On Yale’s web site you can listen to philospher Shelly Kagan‘s PHIL 176: Death (which was offered this past Spring, 2007). He discusses among other topics: the morality, meaning, and fear of death.

If you want to get educated this year, here are some more site to check out:

I’m looking for personal and business finance classes, since that’s one of my focuses for the new year. What I’d like to see are more practical courses (advanced Internet marketing taught by the superstars in business). I’d also like to see more interaction and social networking aspects added to the classes.

My last thought is Facebook should have plugins for education – to find courses and lecture notes. Anyone know of a social network for higher education?

  • Nowadays, with great resources such as the ones you’ve mentioned, it is far easier to get educated and to sharpen your skills, yet people continue to prefer wasting time online. Talk about not knowing how privileged you are.

    Alan Johnson

  • I think it’s great that these universities are offering free courses online. Shows too that the monetary value of a college education is more in the experience, the networking, and the diploma.

  • There are Facebook apps for education, including the OER daily from OER Commons. Each day, a new education resource is posted on the application. The resources include materials from MIT, Yale, Utah State, as well as K12 materials from LearnNC, WGBH, and many more.

    The Open University (UK) also has an app where you can share what OU UK courses you are taking.

  • Wow… where the heck have I been? I had no idea iTunes offered something like this! Hmm I wonder if I could finish up my degree (need 30 credit hours) online…off to research (online of course 😉 )

  • Of course Steven, there is nothing which can be compared to the college experience as far as benefits are concerned but still, the fact that all sorts of great courses are available online is a huge advantage.

    Alan Johnson

  • That is great that the schools don’t charge anything. So if you are unable to afford tuition for a college you can still listen and learn from some amazing professors.

  • This going years and growing and growing.

  • Zen

    I think that video-streaming education is the future. It’ll probably out rule old-fashioned-going to-class-education. Time will tell.

  • Personally, I’d hate to see that happen since there is far more to college then just classes. I’ve made quite a few contacts and have met my share of more than decent people in college, some of which are currently important business partners of mine. That is why college experience will, in my opinion, never be 100% replaced by any alternative.

    Alan Johnson

  • Great to see those schools providing lessons for free

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  • We have been working on lots of ways to get students more engaged, including podcasting lectures, and blogging, and using wikis and things. I love it when universities take their educational responsibilities seriously and share their resources with the community (and by “community”, these days I mean anyone interested in learning, not just the local community around the campus). Making lectures available for free adds value to the lives of lots of people who simply want to learn.

    But we are asking a slightly different question in our research: what value-added can tuition-paying students expect from the use of web 2.0 technologies, especially with respect to the educational objectives of the course? After all, the primary audience for my teaching (at Univ. of Virginia) is the tuition-paying students who sit in my class. What are the best/most effective ways to use these modern tools to support their learning–in addition to all the other tools we use [lectures, office hours, informal discussions, problem sessions, study groups, etc.]?

    Anybody have a guess?