As folks head back to school, let’s spend the rest of August finding ways to study and learn from wherever you are: still on vacation, away in a dorm room, or hanging out at recess. Watching TED talks is fun, but sometimes you need a little more structure.
What Is It?
After more than ten years of colleges and universities offering some kind of online access to courses for their students, today anyone can find lectures, courses, and more available online – some for free, some for a reasonable fee. Here’s a few to give you an idea of what’s out there.
Free Resources, Open to Everyone
- Wikiversity was created by the same people who started Wikpiedia. Educators and experts worldwide offer free educational resources and courses on hundreds of topics.
- Several universities are offering online courses that you can explore at your own pace, or take with a registered class of other students. Check out what’s available from MIT’s OpenCourseware project, Stanford’s Free Online Courses, Open Yale Courses, and Harvard’s Open Learning Courses.
- Imagine searching for lectures as easily as you look for the latest pop hits? That’s the premise behind iTunesU. If you have iTunes on your computer, open it up and click on the iTunes Store, then iTunes U up at the top. Search for a subject you’re interested in and then subscribe to listen or watch it.
- For online courses from around the globe, read through this list of 200 Free Online Classes to Learn Anything from the Online Education Database
Something brand new and very different is the edX project, a partnership between Harvard University, MIT, and University of California at Berkeley to offer free courses online. Unlike the resources above, edX does require registration and will offer a certificate after you complete a subject of study. Read more about edX and ‘the future of online education.’
- Looking to learn more about computer programs you need for work or school? Try Lynda.com, a resource for online training tutorials. For a monthly or annual subscription, you have access to nearly 1500 tutorials on everything from Microsoft Word to Adobe Photoshop and more.
- Many colleges and universities offer formal distance-learning programs, but the University of Phoenix has one of the most well-known online degree programs.
- The Museum of Modern Art in New York offers art courses online, both self-study and instructor-led. Discover art from MoMA from wherever you are!
How Is It Useful?
World-class education, for free, from whatever computer or mobile device you have that can get to the internet. Learn at your own pace, on whatever subject you like, whenever you have time, wherever you are. How isn’t this useful?
Try It Out!
Take a look at a class from any of the resources above and listen to a recorded lecture, read through the notes, or watch a video. Expand your mind and get back in gear for learning.
Help & Resources
- “9 Essential Tips for Students Taking Online Courses” from US News & World Report. It’s written for people taking paid courses, but the suggestions are useful for anyone learning online
- “Taking Online Classes While Working: Time Management Tips” from Onlineclasses.org
- Tips on distance learning from About.com