As a tech professional, if you're looking to advance your learning but don't have the money or the time right now to enroll in a course, online education may be good option. More and more colleges are offering free courses online, including MIT, Stanford, Harvard, MIT and many others. Featuring some of the world's foremost authorities on subjects ranging from beginner courses in computer programming to advanced engineering and quantum electronics, these courses are available to anyone for free. Finding them isn't always easy. Here are some of the best resources available online today.
Many of these websites include video recordings of lectures, however lecture notes, interactive activities, tests and even free certificates are now being made available.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Courseware (OCW) website has 2,100 free courses online using a combination of lecture notes, audio and video resources. Engineering courses cover just about every discipline, from aeronautics and astronautics to mechanical engineering and nuclear science.
If you're looking for Computer science courses, you can find them in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science section. There are dozens of undergraduate and graduate courses in this section alone, ranging from an Introduction to Computer Science and Programming to specific programming languages like Java and C++. Advanced courses range from quantum electronics to nonlinear programming and organic optoelectronics.
Other courses include health sciences and technology, energy courses, hard science courses in chemistry and physics, energy courses.
Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative (OLI) offers courses in a wide range of disciplines. Technical courses include engineering statistics, media programming, principles of computing and secure coding. Carnegie Mellon's OLI had had 10,000 students enrolled in 2011. In addition to lectures, the website offers resources like learning activities, quizzes and itemized lists of objectives. Like most of these websites, there is no interaction with instructors, nor are course credits or certificates offered.
EdX is a non-profit organization founded by Harvard University and MIT that offers online courses from both of these universities and the University of California Berkeley for free. Like many of these resources, EdX is also a work in progress, used as research on how students learn and how technology can be adapted to facilitate learning for students both on-campus and off.
Unlike other websites, EdX offers free certificates of completion for those who demonstrate a mastery of their subjects. Certificates are issued by EdX on behalf of the university offering the course, such as HarvardX, MITx or BerkeleyX.
EdX has a focus on science and technology. For example, the 7 courses being offered in Fall 2012 include:
- Introduction to Solid State Chemistry (MITx)
- Introduction to Computer Science (HarvardX)
- Software as a Service (BerkeleyX)
- Circuits and Electronics (MITx)
- Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research (HarvardX)
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (BerkeleyX)
- Introduction to Computer Science and Programming (MITx)
Several universities have their own YouTube channels where you can access lectures and other video resources. For example, Harvard University's channel has 59 playlists, each from different departments including Computer Science. Stanford University's channel includes The Startup Workshop for budding entrepreneurs.
You can look for courses from each university on their own channels, or you can browse by subject across all of these virtual campuses by going directly to the YouTube EDU website. As an example, the YouTube Computer Science channel offers courses on Programming Languages, Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Data Structures, Game Theory, Algorithms, Networks and Communication, Internet, Cryptography, Computer Architecture, Computer Graphics, Robotics, Computer Design, Computational Science, and Health Informatics.
iTunes USimilar to YouTube, Apple iTunes has its own selection of university course videos covering a wide range of subjects from a wide variety of colleges and universities worldwide. Of course you need to download iTunes to access them on your computer. Once it's installed, just select "iTunes U" from the left menu and then click the directory link in the main window.
You can also install the iTunes U app on mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Courses are available in a podcast format, meaning you can subscribe to the course and download each lecture in sequence. At the time of publication there are over 2,000 collections in the Engineering section alone, including courses in computer science and electronics.