Open Source Learning: Great places to study & learn for free

In the name of democratizing knowledge and providing educational opportunities to netizens everywhere, the following organizations have created excellent portals for high-quality online learning.  The courses offered are designed by professors who teach the same material at a variety of excellent universities including CMU, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.  Each provider organization is experimenting with different interaction platforms so it is best to examine each site to determine your preferences for online learning.

The excerpts below were taken from the organizations’ web sites.  These descriptions were created by the founders of each group and are copied from the “About” pages on each site.

  • Coursera is a “social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.”
  • edX “is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web.”  This is a powerhouse partnership that also includes the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Udacity “was founded by three roboticists who believed much of the educational value of their university classes could be offered online for very low cost. A few weeks later, over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled in our first class, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.” The class was twice profiled by the New York Times and also by other news media.”
  • CMU Open Learning Initiative: “The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a grant-funded group at Carnegie Mellon University, offering innovative online courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach. Our aim is to create high-quality courses and contribute original research to improve learning and transform higher education.”
  • MIT Open Courseware “is a free publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.”  The site emphasizes that it does not offer credit or all course materials for every course.  However, the depth and sheer number of offerings is impressive.

The purpose of highlighting these initiatives is not to provoke a qualitative comparison between the on campus and online environments.  Rather the intent is to show that these organizations represent a real contribution in making excellent information and course materials available to anyone with an Internet connection. It should also be noted that some of these organizations feel the qualitative difference is minimal.   In either case, these projects represent the fulfillment of  an early educational promise of the Internet: to provide learning opportunities at low or no cost on a global level.  Let the free learning begin…  😎


New text: Open Access

As a proponent of open access data, journals and research, it is fantastic to hear from other philosophers engaged in the discussion. To that end, Peter Suber has recently published a new text on the subject.

From his Google + page:

I’m very happy to announce the publication of my new book, Open Access, from MIT Press.  The Kindle edition is available today <>. Digital editions in a dozen other formats will roll out over the summer.  The paperback edition is available for pre-order now from MIT Press <> and Amazon <>, and will ship in early August.

Before you ask: The book will become OA one year from now. If you can’t wait that long, everything I’ve said in the book I’ve said in some form or another in an OA article over the years <>, probably more than once.

For those interested in Suber’s reference to previous writings above, check out this link.