Sit in on a Class at MIT for Free!

Photo: Diane

What do John Hopkins, the University of Notre Dame, and Osaka University of Japan have in common? They all offer free access to their online instruction, along with course outlines, notes, and video classes. Assuming that you just want the knowledge and could care less about the official college credit, you might enjoy this resource to get some of the best online instruction for absolutely no money.

I’m a lifelong learner by definition. As a matter of fact, there is a long list of college courses I would love to take “when I find the time.” I’m also a little reluctant to put out more money for college courses without a definite career path in mind. What if I just wanted to take a class in First Year Chinese or Human-Animal Relationships without all the hassle of actually going to college? It can be done.

As part of the Open Courseware Consortium (OCW) project, schools such as Tufts University, ParisTech, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have partnered with dozens of other colleges to provide the world with free information. Sure it’s not actual college attendance, but you will have access to the lectures and notes of some of the world’s best professors and experts, and it won’t cost you a dime!

The OCW states its purpose as, “a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware.”

Sounds a little empowering, doesn’t it? Imagine millions of regular people, with no particular interest in obtaining a traditional degree, using this knowledge to simply enrich their lives. What could we do with even more free information?

I was first introduced to the OCW as an option for supplementing my homeschool curriculum. Preparing children for college couldn’t be easier than if their extra-curricular learning came directly from the best colleges. This was only the beginning, however. As I flipped through course directories, I found amazing lectures on all kind of subjects, dating back to 2000. Webcasts and podcasts on journalism, gender studies, health, and foreign language were abundant and available for direct RSS feeds!

I don’t know about you, but this is the beginning of what could be an amazing achievement in sharing information with the world. Knowledge junkies, we have a new cure for our disease. Let the learning begin.


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Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Linsey, Berkeley has these free classes too!  I  used to watch  the lectures online all the time. 

Linsey Knerl's picture

Berkeley is listed as part of the OCW, and I already have several of their English classes bookmarked!  Woowee!

Guest's picture
L the D

Reading this is by FAR the best thing that I've learned today. I'm a lifelong learner as well, and have already found three books I intend to read. Thanks!

Guest's picture

It’s so nice to read of like-minded people!
Good post, Linsey. Really, today the only limit to learn is the time we have at our disposal and our willingness to actually sit down and study. I am taking a course on search engines right now, offered by Berkeley. Just one word: fascinating. Please keep posting about free learning resources for people who can’t get enough of it!