Open Courses Offer Free Learning Opportunities

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August 4th, 2010

By Alisa Gilbert

If you’re a college student, you’ve likely encountered a few college courses that really struck a chord with you and motivated you to learn more about the subject. Yet with a busy student life, you just didn’t have time to follow up on that interest and really find the materials that could help you out. That’s were open online education programs can really come in handy. Schools from all over the nation, including some pretty prestigious ones, offer up lectures and learning materials free of charge to help students just like you learn more even when they’re not getting college credits for it.

One of the best resources you’ll find through open education sites is lectures from actual courses taught on campuses like MIT and Yale. Through these videos, you’ll be able to sit in on classes that you might not otherwise get a chance to experience. While you won’t get college credit for taking the course, you can learn the same information and gain experience with a subject which can be an asset for your career, personal education or further classes at your own college. Better yet, lectures like these are available on almost every topic imaginable, so no matter where your personal interests lie, you’re bound to find something interesting.

Along with lecture material, you’ll also find a wide range of syllabi available online. Even if courses do not offer videotaped lectures, through these documents you’ll be able to find out what materials and topics any given course covers and what’s important to know on the topic. They may be able to direct you to information that you would have missed on your own and can help you create an independent plan of study that hits the major topics and issues of any given subject.

Aside from actual lectures, one of the best resources open education offers students is class reading lists. This will tell you what books and articles a professor as assigned for any given course. Very often, you’ll be able to get your hands on these materials and read them on your own time. While you might not be able to take the class itself, you will be able to learn from the outside materials in a similar fashion and it can be an excellent way to learn what books are good primers on a particular subject of interest.

Whether you’re looking for a new topic that interests you or want to pursue one you already know a little about, open education is an excellent and easy way to find high quality materials to do so. Who knows, with a little effort you could turn free online materials into a lifelong passion or a successful career.

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