Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free Online MIT Course Materials

I've been thinking about the cost of education recently. I've read how the increase in the price of a college education is exceeding the rate of inflation. This is scary with the thoughts of 2 kids to put through college and with today's poor stock market performance.

I know several schools offer online learning for free. I was browsing and came across MIT's Free Online Course Materials. In 2000, MIT decided to put all of the course materials offered by MIT online, and offer them free of charge to everyone. The courseware of 1800 courses includes syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and exams. MIT's online courseware also includes 1,000 hours of classroom instruction on video. The program does not offer degrees, nor access to professors.

According to MIT's website:"Each course we publish requires an investment of $10,000 to $15,000 to compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution. Courses with video content cost about twice as much, but your feedback about the significant value of these video materials helps to justify the cost."

I was amazed at the variety of disciplines available via the courseware. I notice they have some of the famous MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin's courses. He rehearses his lectures (40 hours per lecture). That is amazing. He must have assistants to help him accomplish such fantastic demonstrations. Who wouldn't love to learn from a professor as dedicated as Professor Lewin? Unfortunately a MIT student would need to have a stellar academic record, fantastic college admission scores, and pay tuition of nearly $50,000 per year to get into MIT. Instead an earnest learner could visit MIT’s Open Courseware site and pull up Professor Lewin’s syllabus, lecture notes, assignments, exams, and videos of class lectures, all online, and all for free. An affordable price to pay to learn from extraordinary professors. Here's an interview with Lewin:

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