Ever wanted to learn from bed?
Digital Classrooms: A Brief Introduction
With the rise of social networking and media has come an opportunity for academic institutions and for-profit online schools to begin a “learning revolution.” World renowned colleges and universities like Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, etc., are creating opportunities for the masses by making lectures from professors available to the public.
The OpenCourseWare Consortium (the MIT specific project), sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, boasts several hundred classes accessible from their main website. Those who wish to take classes from Stanford’s “Online Classroom” must simply subscribe to the class “feed” by providing their email address and waiting until February, when the courses begin. Professors teaching the courses are also accessible to the students— though not directly. Students submit questions and professors compile a “Frequently Asked” section to dispel majority doubts.
Other “Freeware” projects include “iTunes U” which provides audio lectures from over 800 universities worldwide, including England’s Oxford C and those closer to home like Texas A&M, all of which require an iTunes account. The Online Education Database serves as a Google of sorts for online education, listing hundreds of courses and feeder websites.
Why You Should Consider Signing Up:
- Preparation For College: Want to see exactly what a college course is like? Watch the videos. Listen to the lectures and take notes— then take the quizzes and write the research papers (or, well, attempt to!). These tools are invaluable and infinitely more beneficial than just reading other people’s Tweets or Facebook statuses. Even if you don’t stick around, you’ll know what you’ll be dealing with in a few years.
- It’s Free! …So… Why not! Even if you’re only slightly interested in learning about topics like architecture and chemistry or the much-lesser known game theory or natural language processing, it’s a great way to figure out if what you want to do is what you really want to do… Horror stories from older siblings, friends, parents, and family members are enough to scare students into recognizing that spending around $1,000 per course at the average community college, $3,000 per course at a state institution, and approximately $6,000 dollars per course at a private college or university doesn’t leave much room for error or whim (especially if the student is the one paying for their education).
- They’re Actually Pretty Interesting: Ever watched President Obama give a speech? Many college professors share his charisma. Ever watched Family Guy or South Park and recognized a reference to a book you read in class or a “classic” movie you watched? These professors know their stuff, and they’re not afraid to make jokes about it. Every day they are forced to engage and entertain tired college students who stayed up studying (…or partying..) all night.