Free education is not a new concept. Parts of China and India have free primary and secondary education and even the paid ones
are heavily subsidized by the government. But higher education courses are rarely free and this is where some new age media is making a difference. Just as MIT
shares its teaching principles with the world, there are many colleges and universities that are giving away free lectures to anyone who has a good internet connection. The cost of education has gone down to zero and it cannot get any better. Scoop them up while they are still free, accessible and have no strings attached.
Youtube has an education channel which features around 146 universities and colleges and their online lectures. Itunes University restricts this to a few countries, but still reaches out to students in different ways through their many platforms. Academic Earth is a more distilled version of Youtube’s offering with just a few universities making it to the editor’s pick. Between these channels, any student can learn any subject with a little investment in terms of time. These courses are also useful for students thinking of applying or switching to a particular program. While some colleges offer seminar courses and allow students to sit in lectures before taking admissions, this media works for remote and future students.
Amongst the largest contributors to online education is the IIT/IIS network of colleges in India under the aegis of NPTEL HRD. Not a very attractive brand name to be recognized by students, but the sheer size of the database is good enough to give all the other universities are run for their virtual money.
While riding on the OCW wagon, it is necessary to stick to the rules and play it fair. Every institute has a fair chance of getting on the wagon with good faculty, good courses and a sturdy online framework. While some of the information on the internet may be free, some others may be copyrighted or trademarks. If you promote a course as your own or even give it away for free, make sure it is an original product of your institute or you have the rights to distribute it.
Colleges wanting to leave all these legal issues outside their campus, find it best to use the Creative Commons license to permit limited reuse, redistribution and modification of their materials for non-profit purposes. Most wiki-like initiatives breed the idea of free sharing of knowledge and know how. We, at My Education Boutique, encourage the idea of a world with free flowing information and knowledge.
While MIT, with its OCW site shares how they teach their students, your institute can use it to showcase the excellent faculty and unique course ware. We encourage other universities to likewise share their materials so that we can all learn from each other. See other schools’ sites at the OCW Consortium portal can be found here http://ocwconsortium.org/use/use-dynamic.html
Take a great institute, good courses, thought provoking reading material and challenging assignments, put it all together and blend it with the convenience of doing it whenever you want, wherever you want to and you get the Best OCW Curriculum. And the best part? It is all free.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a wide array of courses that you can take depending on your interest level. While they will not add up as credit or a degree, it is interesting to take a course that would make you a better manager, a better administrator or even help you assess if you are interested in Environmental Management even though there is no school in a 500 mile radius of your town that has a similar course.
MIT has around 85,000 unique visitors every month who browse the OCW site. Almost all the course have been digitized and made OCW compatible, even though participation by faculty is voluntary.
While, the best way to search for courses is going to http://ocwfinder.com/, it would also be good to check out MIT’s website itself to see if there are courses that you might be interested in. My pick: Economy and Business in Modern China and India.