Free Online College Courses
What's the deal with online college courses... how can they be offered for free? Is there some catch involved, and will I get actual college credit if I take free online college classes?
Take College Courses Online
Everyone knows that college is not cheap. But did you know that some college courses are free, online? Some of the most prestigious universities in the world offer thousands of courses free of charge to qualifying students, or to anyone with a Web browser.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - offers more than 1,800 courses through its OpenCourseWare project. These courses are offered in text, video, and audio formats and are even translated into a number of languages. Students from all over the world use OpenCourseWare and 96 per cent of them say they would recommend it.
- Open University is based in the United Kingdom. Through its OpenLearn program it provides undergraduate and graduate level courses to everyone free of charge. Topics include the arts, history, business, education, IT and computing, mathematics and statistics, science, health and technology.
- Carnegie Mellon University has its Open Learning Initiative providing informal instruction to college-ready students at no cost. Subjects you can study here include but are not limited to statistics, biology, chemistry, economics, French, and physics.
- Tufts University, like MIT, uses the OpenCourseWare online learning platform. Free courses, including lectures, homework assignments, and reference materials, are offered by the schools of Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and others.
- Stanford University, always striving to be the coolest school for geeks, has teamed up with iTunes U to offer access to Stanford courses, lectures, and interviews with professors. You don't have to use Apple's iTunes application to download materials to your iPod, Mac, or PC. You can even burn the materials to CD.
- University of California at Berkeley, one of the top schools in the United States, has been offering online lectures and interactive Webcast courses since 2001. Hundreds of current and archived courses can be downloaded or viewed and heard at your leisure. Subjects include astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer programming, engineering, psychology, legal studies and philosophy.
- Utah State University offers only text-format materials, but you can view them online or download them as compressed files. Topics range from anthropology to theatre arts to physics and more.
- Kutztown University's Small Business Development Center offers the largest collection of free business courses available on the Web. Covering accounting, finance, government, business law, marketing and sales, materials are in text, interactive case studies, slideshows, graphics, and streaming audio.
- The University of Southern Queensland, in Australia, offers yet another OpenCourseWare initiative. Topics include communication, science, career planning, technology, teaching and multimedia creation.
- The University of California at Irvine just recently joined the OCW Consortium. UC Irvine's offerings are relatively small but growing. Current courses cover topics like financial planning, human resources, capital markets and e-marketing. Course materials include syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams.
The real value of learning is in the learning itself and what you do with knowledge, not in its contribution to a piece of paper called a diploma. But still you should read the fine print of online college courses' Web sites carefully. You may or may not get college credit for them. For more information on accreditation, see my related article Are Online Colleges Accredited?
Have you taken online college courses? Tell me about your experience, or post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Dec 2009
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