Open Courseware: Free Online Learning for Everyone

We already know how much an education costs these days, and its not just because of the recession. After high school, students are considering options other than a college degree. Online study is now an accepted mode of education, but even alternatives to online degrees are gaining in popularity. Online learning is free up to a point, but we ask for more. Sad to say, even in today’s world where knowledge can be freely gained and obtained, there are still limitations that we need to hurdle.

One limitation lies in the way knowledge is being disseminated. Though we now have free access to online learning by way of our daily interactions on the Internet, there’s still the problem of obtaining relevant and useful information. It’s good that we could use search engines to get what we want, but the common man still doesn’t have access to the most scholarly of all knowledge. Enter the Open Courseware Initiative, a revolutionary way of knowledge-sharing.

The roots of open courseware

Back in 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pondered on the ways at which they could capitalize on the Internet, which was then an emerging technology. That time, email was king, and websites have only started getting everyone’s fancy. Distance education and elearning then was still in its infancy, and it is with this field that MIT wanted to focus their attention to. What they were looking for was a new way of using the Internet to share information, something that has not been done before.

This explorations led to MIT’s Open Courseware project. What MIT did was to set-up a whole website full of lecture notes, videos, powerpoint presentations, reading materials, and any educational resources that they could pull off from actual MIT college courses. What they hoped to accomplish was that everyone would be able to access MIT from anywhere, making them the first formal, and widespread free online learning institution with an academic backing. With this project, everyone could virtually attend most of MIT’s college courses and experience how it is to be at MIT by virtue of the open resources. Although it’s still a long way off from getting a free online learning degree, it’s a great start in the right direction.

Is free online learning the future?

After MIT, other universities had since followed suit, leading to the establishment of an Open Courseware Consortium. Currently made up of educational institutions in 35 countries, the consortium’s goal is to facilitate and create new ways of establishing and disseminating information through open courseware research. With the goal of creating a new model for learning and education, the organization is working hard to make free online learning a reality. They are also working hard to find ways to make the open courseware a sustainable and accessible approach, with the objective that more educational institutions would follow their lead.

Imagine a world where free online learning is the norm, and with universities opening their doors to anyone from anywhere. Within our locations, we could learn Japanese straight from a university in Tokyo,  learn from a hydroponics college course at Cornell in the US, and experience great instruction from an English University. Such a nice thing to look forward to – a world of global learners, finally.

One Response to “Open Courseware: Free Online Learning for Everyone”

  1. Mona says:

    Do you have any free classes for vet tech or vet assistant?

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