Spurred by advances in technology and people’s hunger to get an extra edge in a down economy, universities and colleges are posting course materials – including syllabi, class notes, and lectures – online for anyone to access. This movement, known as OpenCourseWare, allows self learners to save money on tuition, gives alumni a link to their alma mater, and enables prospective students to peek into university classrooms.
Already more than 200 colleges and universities offer courses ranging from art history to economics for free on demand. The classes can be watched on YouTube or downloaded to iPods. And the consortium continues to grow…
The OpenCourseWare concept began in 2003. That year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided it couldn’t turn a profit from putting online its hands-on curriculum with an emphasis on laboratory work online. Instead, MIT began providing its syllabi, course notes, and eventually, video and audio lectures online for free. MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative started by listing 500 courses in 2003. Even that first year the program attracted more than 4 million visits to its web pages.
But today, in less than a decade, the institution has archived 1,897 courses – and in April 2009 alone attracted more than 1 million visits.
[read more at OpenCourseWare: College education, without the student loans, from the Christian Science Monitor]