OEDb.org’s database houses thousands of free, open online courses on subjects ranging from Sustainable Business to Neuroscience. Each week, we hand-select a couple of courses to get you started. This week’s selection features an exploratory course about American film culture; then check out “Video 1: Principles and Practices” to learn the technical basics of filmmaking.
What if you could have free access to countless classes on topics from A to Z, just by connecting to the internet? OpenCourseWare makes that a reality by publishing high-quality college materials online. OpenCourseWare’s free online college courses gained popularity after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the program in 2002. MIT wanted to “enhance human learning worldwide by the availability of a web of knowledge.” They also thought that along with providing valuable free classes online, students would be better prepared for coursework in the actual classroom.
Anyone can access OpenCourseWare online, whether they are a registered student or not. While participants do not receive certification or credit for the work, it provides the opportunity to take free college courses online on any topic desired, better preparing them for an eventual degree, or offering the chance for continued learning and professional development.
The following list can be used as a resource to find free online college courses to learn more about a desired topic or supplement your learning.
Popular Online Classes
|Accessibility of eLearning||Education||Open University||With this course, you can make elearning resources more accessible for disabled students.|
|An Introduction to Complex Numbers||Math||Open University||Explore complex numbers, learn how they're defined, and examine geometric representation in this course from The Open University.|
|An Introduction to Data and Information||Engineering & Computer Science||Open University||Get an understanding of how computers process data into information with this course.|
|Art History: 1700-1800 Age of Enlightenment||Arts||Khan Academy||In this course, students will look at the age of enlightenment period and the works of art that were produced during this time.|
|Basic Human Pathology: Parts I and II||Health & Medical||Tufts University||This two-part course held in 2007 and 2008 included both general and systemic pathology training, intended as a transition between basic science courses and clinical dentistry sciences.|
|Entrepreneurship||Business||Taylors University||Students in this course will gain valuable skills in entrepreneurship for careers in business.|
|Modern Poetry||Liberal Arts||Yale University||With this course from Yale professor Langdon Hammer, you'll explore the body of modern poetry.|
|Nutrition and Medicine||Health & Medical||Tufts University||Study the theoretical and clinical aspects of nutrition as it relates to medicine in this course from Tufts.|
|Research for the Classroom Teacher||Education||Utah State University||Students will learn the Guided Design model for teaching and classroom research.|
|The Cell||Science||University of California-San Diego (UCSD)||Introduces students to cellular structure and function, biological molecules, bioenergetics, molecular biology elements, and the genetics of procaryotic and eucaryotic organisms.|
|The Evolving Universe||Science||Open University||Study the evolution of the Universe in this course, starting with the Big Bang, and turning into the Universe we know today.|
|What is Life?||Science||Kyoto University||This seminar course explores a combination of natural sciences and humanities, and integrates western science and eastern philosophy, in questioning life and evolution of species.|
To view all online courses, please browse by subject below.
Benefits of OpenCourseware
Taking free online classes through OpenCourseWare is a great idea both for students just starting out and those wishing to brush up on their skills.
First, and maybe most obviously, they are free. While college and advanced degrees are a wise investment, they don’t come with a cheap price tag. Students can make sure they are getting the most out of their not-so-free education by also taking free online college courses in the same topic.
OpenCourseWare is also a good idea for students about to enter a very specialized field, such as a degree in medicine or the law. By taking free online classes before the official program starts, students can prepare for the eventual coursework, including its fundamentals and jargon. This will also help them start off ahead of the pack in very competitive programs. Additionally, if an individual is thinking of entering into a specific program, but is still not quite sure of their choice, OpenCourseWare can help with the decision by giving a good precursor to what the courses will be like.
These free online college courses can act as a digital tutor, allowing students to spend extra time and attention on material they are learning in their full-time field of study. These classes are put together by accredited universities and professionals in the field, and are great resources materials.
For seasoned professionals, OpenCourseWare’s free online colleges courses can also serve as essential continuing education. These free online classes offer a flexible opportunity even for veterans in any field to keep up with changing laws, policies, technologies, and advancements.These free online courses keep the information fresh for professionals who may be far-removed from studying their craft.
How OpenCourseware Got Popular
While OpenCourseWare became popular after MIT began using it in 2002, the concept was actually started in 1999 by the University of Tübingen in Germany. Tübingen posted videos online of their lectures.
In the US, MIT started MIT OpenCourseWare and Carnegie Mellon started their Open Learning Initiative, and the support for the free online courses expanded. Soon, universities across the country, such as Yale, Utah State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California Berkeley replicated the idea.
When MIT celebrated the tenth anniversary of the program, they surveyed students to confirm its popularity. At that time, more than 93% of undergraduates and 82% of graduate students reported using MIT’s free online college classes to enhance their coursework. What’s more, 84% of MIT’s faculty said that they used it to help with advising, creating new course materials, and for their own personal learning.