Harvard University is one of the most distinguished names in education. In addition to its brick and mortar classes, they offer a variety of online courses. In fact, a number of their courses are offered for free! If you would like to stoke your passions for Shakespeare, you can take a course on Hamlet. If you are interested in public health, check out the course on the Opioid Epidemic. There are hundreds of courses to choose from. You can browse and search on their website.
Stanford’s robust iTunes U offerings has become even more topical and current with the addition of its Election 2012 course. What makes this particular course unique and innovative is that it includes an online discussion element via its Course Piazza. The course description is as follows:
About Election 2012
This course will focus on the fall election in November 2012. Videos will be posted once per week, with serial examinations of major topics at stake in the election: foreign policy, the economy, the Supreme Court, and campaign strategy. We will also devote one session to California. Distinguished guests will participate in sessions moderated by the instructors, with participation by students.
- David Kennedy, Dept. of History
- Rob Reich, Dept. of Political Science
- Jim Steyer, Commonsense Media
Please note that the post-mortem discussion on the election will be posted on Monday, November 12th.
Code of Conduct
- The discussion forum is NOT intended for explicit electioneering or campaigning. You may not use this discussion board, for example, to solicit volunteers for campaign activities, to organize other students to work on behalf of any particular candidate, to ask students to sign petitions, etc.
To participate in Election 2012, you must register to create your Piazza account.
To download the lectures and content of the course, click here.
I have espoused the value of iTunes U many times. The open-source education repository publishes and distributes (at no cost to consumers) rigorous courses in science, the humanities, computers, and more (see my article – “15 Opportunities for Free Online Education“).
Today, I highlight the course offered via Yale by Professor Tamar Gendler (Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Yale) entitled: “Philosophy & Science of Human Nature.”
Course Description: Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature pairs central texts from Western philosophical tradition (including works by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, Rawls, and Nozick) with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. The course is structured around three intertwined sets of topics: Happiness and Flourishing; Morality and Justice; and Political Legitimacy and Social Structures.”
To experience this free course, simply click this link.
I have posted many times about what a huge proponent I am of iTunes U as a resource for educators, students, and lay individuals with a passing interest in various subjects (history classes, philosophy, learning a foreign language, exploring world politics, etc). I recently posted an article focusing on how individuals who already have college and graduate degrees can use online resources to bolster or even change their careers: “Using Free Educational Resources to Boost or Changes Careers.”
Many Universities have embraced the online format and have begun publishing numerous classes in their catalogues online. These are not ‘new age’ online universities or small liberal arts colleges that none of us have heard mentioned. These are educational powerhouses, such as Yale, Harvard, MIT, and more.
In the past year, the University of California at Berkley as made a concerted effort to make large portions of the catalogue fully available online. Currently, the Spring 2012 catalogue, available on iTunes U has 86 full classes in mathematics, economics, history, the sciences, philosophy, law, and more. These courses range from introductory to advanced and are taught by the leaders in their field. You can view the entire catalogue by clicking here. Remember, you do not have to have an iPod or a Mac computer to play these courses. All that you need is iTunes on your computer (completely free software).
I was recently visiting with a friend of mine who was expressing dissatisfaction in her career and was telling me about her new plan to do a complete career shift. Now, we are in our 30s, well educated, and the thought of going back to school (and adding to already crippling loan debt) can be rather daunting. Instead, she told me that she was planning to take some free classes via iTunes U and MIT OpenCourseware. I had never even considered the potential of these courses for career changes – especially for those who already have college and graduate degrees. However, the opportunities for those who wish to do their own professional development in field as well as broadening their own opportunities are truly boundless.
There are many resources out there, the most famous of course being iTunes U. With access to an iOS device or simply a computer with iTunes (free software), anyone can listen in (audit) classes on a variety of topics: history, philosophy, computer programming, marketing, business, and more. These are not cheap or hapless classes – rather, they’re from world famous institutions like Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford (to name a limited few). Heck, if you’re interested in the Classical World, you can listen to my own educational podcasts (from my years at TCU).
One of the most famous recent announcements has been the Harvard-MIT EdX initiative. Harvard and MIT have come together to offer online course enrollment for a grade (but no degree) for those interested. So, ‘regular joes’ can enroll in some of the most prestigious university courses for no cost and even receive a grade (although no credit).
So while you may not get a Harvard Degree, these courses are an excellent way for adults to hone their own professional skills, indulge a hobby or interest, or even give you the prominent background understanding to change careers!
The University of California at Berkeley at has made available a good chunk of its Fall 2011 courses via iTunes U for free! You can download courses on Biology, Chemistry, Economics, History, International Relations, Mathematics, Public Health, and more. These courses are entirely free – they require only a PC or a Mac with Apple’s iTunes software installed (also a free program). If you have an iPod, you can also take them on the go!
To look at the course offerings, click on this iTunes U link.