Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Free Education Online

Why should someone pay for an college education? Are our days in higher ed numbered?

Whitson Gordon gives a nice rundown of Where to Get the Best Free Education Online:

Whether you're a student looking for supplemental learning or you're in the workforce but thirsty for knowledge, you don't have to drop thousands of dollars in tuition to enjoy a top-notch education from some of the best schools in the world.


While most online resources won't grant you a college degree, there's a lot more to the internet than Wikipedia when it comes to learning. Whether you learn best through video or text, want to take a year-long course or just to touch up on a few topics, there are more than a few places online that can give you the full experience. In fact, there are enough that it can get quite overwhelming, so we've rounded up the best resources to make it all a bit more manageable. Here are some of the best places to get an education without ever leaving your computer.

First Stop: The OpenCourseWare Consortium

MIT began their OpenCourseWare initiative and published their first batch of courses online in 2002. In 2005, they formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which partnered with other universities to bring free education to the masses via the internet. Most courses offered on OpenCourseWare are available as free audio or video lectures for free, and under open licenses. The easiest way to find a course you're interested in is to search the OpenCourseWare Consortium site


The Khan Academy

The Khan Academy is a bit more narrow than the others; as it isn't an aggregator, it's mostly the work of one man, an electronic chalkboard, and YouTube. It focuses mostly on math, from basic arithmetic to calculus, as well as a bit of science.


Academic Earth

Previously mentioned Academic Earth aggregates lectures from 19 different universities on a variety of subjects. The idea is similar to that of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, although it's slightly smaller and organized differently


iTunes U

The last video resource is the ever-growing iTunes U (accessible through the iTunes Store at the bottom of the front page). If you're an iPod, iPhone, or iPad user, iTunes U is fantastic because you can download these lectures right to your device and take them with you.


WikiversityWikiversity (and its sister site, Wikibooks) is a fantastic resource for all kinds of information. Users can contribute their own projects or research to the wiki, and it hosts a ton of textbook-like resources, organized in a tree

Textbook Revolution

We've also mentioned Textbook Revolution before, and it deserves a little more attention. Textbook Revolution's goal is to bring together as many free textbooks on the net as they can.

Straight from Universities

It's also worth noting that a few other universities offer online textbooks, such as Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative and the Supplemental Resources section of MIT's aforementioned OpenCourseWare (in fact, while OpenCourseWare focuses on video, they have a ton of other resources like online textbooks, lecture notes, and assignments for many of their classes

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